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Linked here are the approved contract terms for the 2023/2025 contracts.
Specifically, there are three documents:
Structurally, the contracts are very similar to the last contracting cycle, with a few exceptions that are noted in the memo.
Please note, we do not expect our budget to be approved until late May at the earliest, and likely June, so we don't have any information to provide on financial allocations.
Criminal & Juvenile Addendum
The PDSC has released its Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for public defense contracts effective July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025. The proposed contracts have been approved by the PDSC following a period of stakeholder engagement and public comment.
Most existing providers will receive a letter no later than April 18, 2023 announcing the PDSC’s intent to enter into a new contract. If you receive this letter, you do not need to respond to the RFQ. Providers who need to respond to the RFQ for a contract would be new providers or existing providers who do not receive a letter of intent to contract.
The proposed contract obligations are similar to those of the existing contracts. However, the contracts were restructured in a way to make them better organized and easier to understand. The RFQ itself, along with two memos explaining the differences between existing contracts and the new contracts can be found here.
We will not have information on the financial value of the contracts until the OPDS budget becomes clear, which will likely not happen until late May or June. We will keep everyone updated as we learn more information about our budget during the legislative session Tentatively, we are scheduling a PDSC meeting on June 21, 2023 for final approval of the contracts.
October 6th is the deadline by which a contract must be returned signed in order to allow the agency time for the processing of contract payments for October. This also is required to receive the full retroactive amounts back to July 1.
Yes, Commission members approved FTE Attorney funding rates for the 2023-25 contracts, which are the current contract rates plus an 8.8 percent increase; those specific rates are set out below, per 1.0 FTE annually:
FTE Attorney Funding – Criminal and Juvenile (non-PCRP) Contracts
Parent Child Representation Program (PCRP) Contracts
Contracted Qualification Level signifies the specific or most serious level of cases for which an attorney is both qualified and obligated to accept appointment to. An attorney will only be paid based on the types of cases they are obligated to take under contract, which may or may not be all case types for which they are certified by OPDS. For example, if a murder-qualified attorney only wishes to take minor felony and misdemeanor appointments, they will only be paid at the minor felony rate.
An attorney wishing to increase their qualification should first check the Qualification Standards and then fill out and submit an Attorney Certification form and copy the contract administrator. Once approved, an OPDS program analyst will work with the contract administrator regarding any needed contract amendments.
Yes. As with the 2022-23 contracts, the new contracts will include an additional 5% for administration on top of the increased attorney rates. The PDSC cannot direct contract administrators, who are independent contractors, how to distribute funds once paid out.
New in the 2023-25 contracts is the requirement that attorneys spread their caseload evenly throughout the year, taking no more than roughly 1/12 annual MAC every month. A 1.0 FTE attorney would therefore aim to take approximately 25 weighted cases every month. The exception to this is for Murder and JLaw cases, which are weighted 50 and therefore more than 1/12 of annual MAC.
Annual Variance: OPDS is committed to ensuring that lawyers have caseloads that allow them adequate time to provide constitutionally competent and effective legal representation for their clients. We recognize that some lawyers have capacity to represent more than 300 weighted misdemeanors annually, and some lawyers have less capacity. A lawyer’s capacity is impacted by regional differences and the lawyers own experience and resources. OPDS remains committed to reducing caseloads across the state and is working on promulgating guidance for the annual variance.
Monthly Variance: Prorating the MAC on a monthly basis is intended to protect attorneys from systemic pressures to accept appointment in a high number of cases early in the contract period. Allowing a contract attorney to exceed the contracted MAC by 15% each month is intended to allow some flexibility. For example, a murder case is the weighted equivalent of 50 misdemeanors, therefore a contractor who accepts appointment on a murder case will necessarily exceed their weighted MAC in a month. Some variation is inevitable. However, OPDS seeks to avoid a long-term variance. Therefore, if a contractor’s caseload is at 115% of their contracted MAC for three or more months, they should contact their OPDS Program Analyst to determine how to address the circumstances to bring the caseloads within the contracted MAC or adjust the contract.
The Commission approved an increase in the current standard hourly rate for attorneys.
Effective 10/1/23- The PDSC adopted a two-tiered increased hourly rate:
The Temporary Hourly Increase Program was modified and extended for two additional months, until November 30, 2023.
Effective October 1, 2023, only in custody OJD Unrepresented Persons list cases will be eligible for the increased hourly rates. The investigators on those cases will also still be eligible for $75/hour. All cases currently billing at the increased hourly rates will continue to receive that rate through the life of the case.
If you have not already alerted your program analyst, you should do so immediately. OPDS program analysts are in the process of preparing contracts and allocating attorney FTE statewide within the legislatively adopted budget. Decisions regarding attorney FTE levels under contracts are informed by prior contracting levels, forecasts, and current jurisdictional need. If we are unable to add FTE to your contract, the attorney may still be able to take cases on an hourly basis.
The 2023-25 contracts continue funding for training, supervision, and investigation for previously funded providers in non-PCRP contracts through June 2024, but does not include funding for the second year of the contract because the agency does not have enough funds in the appropriate budget to fund two full years.
However, the agency is strongly committed to continued funding of these positions in all contracts through the end of the contract in June 2025. We have developed a structured plan to rebalance the agency’s budget with the assistance of the Legislature to ensure this funding. Under that plan, which the PDSC approved, the agency would rebalance existing agency funds to fully fund the second year of training, supervision, and investigation for previously funded providers in non-PCRP contracts, as well as provide an 8.8% increase for in-house investigators retroactive to July 1, 2023.The agency is also developing a policy to standardize the number of supervisors funded per FTE Attorneys, with stakeholder involvement.
Yes. for the first year on the 2023-25 contracts, investigators will be funded at $75,000 per 1.0 FTE annually. The agency recognizes the importance of investigators to a well-functioning public defense system and remains committed to working to fund them beyond June 2024. Like training and supervision funding we have a structured plan to rebalance our agency budget with the assistance of the legislature in order to continue the funding into year two of the contracts. Our plan includes an 8.8% increase for investigator funding for the fully 24 months of the contract.
Investigation is currently funded at $40/hr for non-capital cases and $45/hr for capital cases and bilingual investigators. Effective October 1, 2023 the PDSC approved an increase of 43% for all case types to $55 per hour for monolingual investigators and $60 for bilingual investigators where there is an identified need. The hourly rate for all mitigation investigation shall remain $65 per hour.
OPDS staff are currently working to update the agency’s policies and procedures to move toward quarterly contract amendments. During the extension period, OPDS will continue the practice of amending contracts monthly to increase or decreased contracted MAC. However, OPDS will not amend contracts during the extension period to account for an attorney’s increase in qualifications (for example, moving from minor felony to major felony qualifications); those changes will be accounted for in the new contracts and will be retroactive to the date of OPDS’s certification of the increased qualification.
The Maximum Attorney Caseload applies from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024. With the prorated monthly MAC applying each month of the contract rather than just the yearly total MAC. Once new contracts are signed, they are retroactive back to July 1, 2023, which is why providers will receive compensation at the new contract rate for work performed during this period.
Yes. Since the beginning of OJD’s Unrepresented Dashboard, contracted providers have accepted appointments for unrepresented persons on OJD’s list under their contracts as capacity allowed. Starting on July 1, 2023, many providers will have new contracted capacity to accept appointment of cases which applies equally to cases on OJD’s Unrepresented Dashboard and new filings. Jurisdictions may vary in how they prioritize and facilitate case assignment.
OPDS supports having the same timeline to move to an assigned counsel model for all providers making that transition. To the extent that SB 337 creates confusion about whether there are different transition dates for different business entities, OPDS is committed to obtaining clarity from policy makers to align the transition time for law firms and with the 2027 timeline which applies to consortia providers.
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