DOF Notifies Legislature of COVID-19 Emergency Fund Augmentations for Contact Tracing, Child Care PPE, Correctional Institutions

Late last week, the Department of Finance (DOF) notified the chairs of the Senate and Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committees of its intent to increase emergency fund expenditures in response to COVID-19. Recall, the Legislature appropriated up to $1 billion in emergency funds to the Newsom Administration in mid-March just prior to taking its unprecedented joint recess. DOF identified the following modifications and increases in funding:

Child Care Facility Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Amendment

DOF notified the Legislature of its intent to modify provisions of its previous allocation of $50 million to support personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies for child care facilities. DOF indicated the Department of Education (CDE) identified the need to amend provisions to allocate funding through local county offices of education instead of resource and referral agencies.

Contact Tracing Augmentation

DOF also notified the Legislature of its intent to allocate $8.7 million to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to support the development of the UCSF-UCLA virtual contact tracing training academy and $18.7 million also to CDPH to support the development of a data management platform for COVID-19 contact tracing activities. DOF indicates that Accenture will launch a contract tracing technology platform developed by Salesforce and run a contact tracing call center in collaboration with Amazon, similar to a system that has been established in Massachusetts. According to DOF, both the contact tracing training and data management platform are to be made available to all local health departments at no cost.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) responded to DOF’s notification, ultimately concurring with the Newsom Administration’s expenditures. JLBC requested of the Administration a series of information by June 1, including copies of data use agreements between state and local governments around the sharing of personal information collected as a result of contact tracing, safeguards against data breaches and unauthorized data disclosures, and criteria that will be used to determine the deployment and distribution of state staff for contact tracing at the county level. Legislative leaders also request a complete overview of the contact tracing program and the respective role of each contact tracer.

Correctional Institutions Augmentation

DOF notified the Legislature of its intent to allocate $8.6 million to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to reimburse counties for housing inmates due to the temporary stoppage of prison intake for an additional 30 days in response to COVID-19.

The JLBC also concurred with the spending augmentation but expressed concerns with the increasing COVID-19 outbreak within the state’s correctional facilities. JLBC identified a series of requests of the Newsom Administration around public health guidelines to support physical distancing, intake processes, and quarantine procedures.