Inclusion in Court Contracting (AUS0007)
Action Plan: Austin, United States Action Plan 2019-2021
Action Plan Cycle: 2019
Lead Institution: Downtown Austin Community Court
Support Institution(s): City of Austin Purchasing Department ● City of Austin Financial Services Department ● City of Austin Law Department ● City of Austin Innovation Office Local Lead: Open Austin, Contact: Vickie O’Dell, Brigade Captain ● Austin Homeless Advisory Committee (AHAC) ● Court clients ● Business community ● Neighborhood associations ● Homeless advocacy groups
Policy AreasAnti Corruption and Integrity, Democratizing Decision-Making, Inclusion, Infrastructure & Transport, Judiciary, Justice, Local Commitments, Open Contracting, Open Justice, Public Participation, Public Procurement, Public Service Delivery, Safety Nets & Economic Inclusion, Social Accountability, Sustainable Development Goals
Commitment 2: Inclusion in Court Contracting
To further the city’s Strategic Plan goals of ‘Economic Opportunity & Affordability’, and the
United Nations Sustainability Goal to Reduce Inequalities, we commit to fostering transparency,
accountability, and civic participation by co-creating strategies to maximize the community court
end-user’s experience in services purchased on their behalf.
2.1 Current Problem:
The City of Austin’s Downtown Austin Community Court and the community organizations
Sunlight Foundation and the Open Contracting Partnership are collaborating to identify how to
effectively include court clients in designing city service contracts and assessing contract
outcomes. With an annual budget of $4,697,956 for fiscal year 2019 (City of Austin FY19
Budget), DACC seeks to identify the contractual portions of its budget that will benefit from a
collaborative accountability approach.
2.2 Main Objective:
This commitment will improve transparency by giving the public access to information at each
step of the procurement process; improve accountability by linking city contracting decisions to
the feedback provided by the court’s clients; and improve civic participation by inviting public
feedback at each step of the procurement process and connecting that feedback to city decision
The accountability cadence will include biweekly meetings of the Austin Homeless Advisory
Committee, convened by the Downtown Austin Community Court and attended by community
and city department representatives.
2.3 Commitment Description:
The Downtown Austin Community Court contracts with local nonprofits to provide services to
court clients, with the goal of assisting them to achieve a higher level of self-sufficiency.
Currently, the city purchases services for clients through a closed, one-size-fits-all contracting
approach -- the end user does not participate, in a process that is the same for purchasing
social services or paper.
During the contracting process, the city process makes assumptions about what the client
needs, values, and what will assist them to transition from homelessness to housing. The
Downtown Austin Community Court staff wants to develop strategies for including the end user
in the procurement and contracting processes.
2.4 Anticipated Transformative Results:
● Open Government Partnership Values (2020):
○ Create community engagement strategies to ensure a public role in downtown
community court’s contract decision-making. This improves civic participation by
engaging residents in new ways for community feedback; better decision-making
processes; better use of city resources; and new relationships between the city,
community, and vendors. (Open Government Partnership: Civic Engagement)
○ Establish an approach to contracting that includes city contractors reporting on a
quarterly basis to both the downtown community court staff and members of the
public who provided the initial contract decision-making input. (Open
Government Partnership: Accountability)
○ Establish an approach to contracting that includes the city and community
providing a feedback loop to city contractors on vendor performance vis a vis the
contract elements designed with the community (Open Government Partnership:
● City Strategic Plan Metrics (2023):
○ Improve the number and percentage of people receiving homelessness services
through City of Austin contracts and Downtown Austin Community Court case
management who move into housing (City Strategic Plan 2023: Economic
Opportunity & Affordability goal’s Homelessness indicator category)
● United Nations Goals (2030):
○ Empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all,
including the homeless, irrespective of economic or other status (United Nations
Goal 2030: Reduce Inequalities)
Civil Society partners:
● Lead: Sunlight Foundation & Open Contracting Partnership, Contact: Katherine
● Local Lead: Open Austin, Contact: Vickie O’Dell, Brigade Captain
● Austin Homeless Advisory Committee (AHAC)
● Court clients
● Business community
● Neighborhood associations
● Homeless advocacy groups
● Lead: Downtown Austin Community Court, Contact: Robert Kingham, Assistant Director
● City of Austin Purchasing Department
● City of Austin Financial Services Department
● City of Austin Law Department
● City of Austin Innovation Office
2.6 Exploration Questions:
Open questions that we may need to answer in order to reach our desired outcomes include:
● What will end user input look like?
● How might end user input ensure contractor accountability?
2.7 Project Milestones: (see Appendix for phase descriptions)
2.7.1 Clarify Phase: Spring 2019
● Who will the community be?
● What will their input look like?
● How can we standardize these questions?
2.7.2 Framing Phase: Summer/Fall 2019
● Identify how to design and implement a contracting process with community input
● Identify how to design and implement contract management deliverables with community
input (life of contract from contract established, reporting, to contract close out)
2.7.3 Conceive/Prototype/Test Phase: Winter/Spring 2020
● First procurement document written with end users
● First bid evaluation with end users, to make funding recommendations
● First partner quarterly report assessment with end users
2.7.4 Plan/Build Phase: 2020
● Standard operating procedure for developing and issuing a solicitation that involves end