Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Four words not heard at Board table

The following is testimony delivered in Annapolis on proposed legislation MC 930-09. What documents do exist on these procurements seem to indicate that all four of these contracts were entered into by MCPS during the last two years, during the time that the MCPS Board of Education President was Nancy Navarro.

Montgomery County Delegation
January 30, 2009
Re: MD 930-09 Montgomery County Public Schools - Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2009

Good morning Chairs Madaleno and Feldman and the members of the Montgomery Delegation.
I am Janis Zink Sartucci. I grew up in Montgomery County and I am raising my children in Montgomery County. I attended Montgomery Knolls Elementary School, Eastern Junior High and graduated from Montgomery Blair High School. I am here as a member of Parents Coalition to support Louis Wilen and the Parents Coalition's request that you pass MD 930-09.
In my time before you today, I have four words for you. The four words are:

IQinVision
Promethean
EasyLobby
SmartBoard

These are four words that you will not find in Board of Education minutes approving procurements of the products from these companies. In total, I would estimate that these four words represent contracts of over $30 million in procurements. That’s over $30 million in procurements that are not reflected in MCPS Board of Education minutes. Each of these procurements represents a commitment of taxpayer dollars of well beyond $10,000.

Briefly, let me start with IQinVision. How did Montgomery County citizens discover that MCPS has contracted with this company? In a press release from IQinVision. The contract with this company is not mentioned in Board of Education minutes. Neither is their product IQEye or the consultant that obtained this contract. Rumor has this procurement cost at $9 million. Attachment A

Promethean: How did citizens discover this contract? A press release from MCPS announcing the placement of these products in classrooms. Repeated Maryland Public Information Act requests disclosed that 3,300 Promethean Boards had been purchased for MCPS classrooms, in total a commitment of over $20 million in taxpayer funds without Board of Education review. In support of this purchase, the Superintendent has produced two different versions of a June 9, 2008 memorandum to the Board of Education, purportedly to justify this purchase. Both versions of the June 9, 2008 memorandum are attached. Attachment B

EasyLobby: Citizens discovered this procurement through an article in the Gazette newspaper. This procurement is also not mentioned in Board of Education minutes. Unknown contract cost. Attachment C

SmartBoard: SmartBoards are present in schools and in MCPS headquarters. We simply see them in use but again, can not find any mention of a contract to purchase these items in Board of Education minutes. Unknown contract cost. Attachment D

Does Montgomery County need the Montgomery County Public Schools - Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2009?
Absolutely.
We don’t know what we don’t know.

With regard to funding of this Act, I will reference the recently released State Legislative Audit of Montgomery County Public Schools. In order to fund a searchable website of MCPS procurements, MCPS can cut up the 1,400 credit cards whose use is not being monitored.
From the State Audit:
"Our tests of 32 calendar year 2007 travel expenditures
charged to credit cards totaling $19,028 disclosed 30 expenditures
totaling $17,930 that were not recorded on monthly activity logs and,
therefore, were never approved."
Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

(Attachments available upon request. For each word I searched in the Board of Education minutes on their website and copied the results page. For all of the words except "Promethean" the search yielded "no results". For the Promethean search the only results were references to demonstrations, updates or curriculum but no reference to purchasing 3,300 units.)

UPDATE: EasyLobby procurement was made without a contract and without Board of Education approval.

UPDATE: IQinVision procurement was made without a contract and without Board of Education approval.



UPDATE December 2010: The legislation to create a MCPS database of vendors receiving payments over a specific amount was enacted and the database has now been posted on the MCPS website.

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