Monday, March 9, 2009

"There is no contract" for $74,300 purchase.

On January 30, 2009, I testified in Annapolis about the urgent need for transparency in MCPS procurements via an online searchable website. I gave 4 examples of major procurements that did not appear in MCPS Board of Education minutes. One of the examples I gave was the purchase of the EasyLobby visitor management system.

Now we know why the EasyLobby procurement does not appear in MCPS Board of Education minutes. MCPS: "There is no contract".

Montgomery County Public Schools has a Procurement Manual which is based on Policy DJA, Procurement Practices and Regulation DJA-RA Procurement of Equipment, Supplies, and Contractual Services. The Procurement Manual details the procedure to be used in procuring items over $25,000 and details how those purchases require Board of Education approval. In short, the process has an RFP or IFB, followed by competitive bids, and then the selection of a bidder. The contract is then awarded by the Board of Education.

[UPDATE JULY 15, 2009: MCPS HAS REMOVED THE PROCUREMENT MANUAL FROM THEIR WEBSITE SO THAT IT IS NO LONGER ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC. THE LINK TO THE "PROCUREMENT MANUAL" ABOVE NO LONGER TAKES YOU TO THE MCPS PROCUREMENT MANUAL. HERE IS A NEW LINK PROVIDED BY THE PARENTS' COALITION.]

According to MCPS, there is no EasyLobby contract, and so apparently, there was no Board of Education approval of this August 18, 2008, $74,300 purchase. So who exactly authorized the spending of this money?

Please note that the letter from EasyLobby is dated August 12, 2008 and the Purchase Order is dated August 18, 2008. There was no Board of Education meeting between August 12th and August 18th of 2008, and so Board approval of this Purchase Order was impossible.

How often are purchases over $25,000 made without Board of Education approval? Annapolis, we can't wait for a searchable MCPS procurement database, we need it today!

UPDATE 3/10/09: MCPS COO Larry Bowers tells Board that MCPS will be putting out a RFP for a visitor management system soon due to questions from elementary principals.
Easy 1

3 comments:

  1. Did you notice that this system comes with eight days of training? Eight days of training on how to print out nametags? Or is there more to it than that?

    The wholesale phaseout and closing of the secondary learning centers only came with three days of training...and half of the teachers didn't show up for it, according to those surveyed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. One of the companies that was apparently considered for the visitor management purchase, Raptor Technologies, is involved with a civil rights suit. The suit states that the photo identification process for scanning parents drivers license information to perform a criminal background check violates basic civil rights. They are concerned because visitor's name, birth date, license number and photo are sent over the internet and checked against Raptor's internal national database of registered sex offenders.

    Apparently Raptor is a 4-5 person company and instead of using a credential background search company, they are storing information themselves. It is also believed that EasyLobby accesses Raptor's data for their background checks instead of a nationally recognized credential company.

    Here's a link for additional information:
    http://www.kxan.com/dpp/news/local/lake_travis_isd_up_against_lawsuit

    ReplyDelete
  3. In the interest of ensuring that our readers have accurate information:

    (1) Raptor Technologies is not a party to the lawsuit and has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

    (2) Raptor Technologies is a larger company that Alex indicates. Alex may have been thinking of EasyLobby when he estimated the size of the company.

    (3) When sending data through the internet, Raptor's system uses industry-standard encryption identical to that used for online banking.

    Louis Wilen

    ReplyDelete

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