York County eyes outsourcing management of 911 Center; meeting set for Wednesday

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

York County Commissioners on Wednesday are expected to begin a search that could result in the outsourcing of management at the county's troubled 911 Center.

Commissioners will hold a public meeting to discuss and perhaps vote to approve the search at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The county's meeting announcement came packaged Monday with the results of an audit conducted by New Jersey-based IXP Corp., a firm with a history of privatizing 911 call centers.

"The county wants to see what kind of company or entity that exists that could be qualified to help operate a 911 center," county spokesman Mark Walter said Monday. 

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The 911 Center has struggled with staffing and retention issues for years, problems that some current and former dispatchers say have worsened under director Jacqueline Brininger.

Brininger, who was promoted to director in 2015, remains employed at York County 911. 

Gábor Barna talked about conditions at York County Department of Emergency Services, at his home, Friday, August 31, 2018. The 911 Center employee resigned from the county after the interview. Bill Kalina photo

The county commissioners on Wednesday are expected to issue a request for qualifications in search of a "transition management team that would work with staff and the public safety community to rebuild trust and collaboration with the agencies and communities and increase efficient and effective operations of the communication center," according to a news release.

Outsourcing management is just one option the county has, Walters said, adding it all depends on whether a qualified company comes up. The county doesn't anticipate an entity coming in and gutting positions.

The audit that precipitated the upcoming search outlines flawed management and training practices at the center. It also makes a handful of recommendations, including restructuring how the facility is run.

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"Accomplishing this level of business process reengineering is extremely difficult to accomplish for incumbent leaders/staff with the restrictions imposed by the current work rules," the audit states. "Being the functionaries for maintaining routine operations are a totally different set of skills than driving organizational change. The Comm Center needs to be operationally rebuilt to meet the functional, performance and financial needs of the community."

The county in January approved the $116,800 contract with IXP Corp. to conduct the audit, marking the third of its kind in two years. The audits have cost taxpayers $285,000.

IXP has acquired six 911 centers in Michigan, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Georgia in the past four years. It also has made several bids that have failed or are still pending.

Representatives from the company are expected to be present at  Wednesday's  meeting, Walters said.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.