Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Over $10 Million without Competitive Bids in 24 Hours

Joint House and Senate Priorities Hearing
Montgomery County Delegation to the Maryland General Assembly
Rockville, Maryland
November 14, 2012

In the last 24 hours, Montgomery County Public Schools has confirmed purchases totaling over $10 million that will be made without the issuance of Requests for Proposals or competitive bids.  These are not purchases that are part of any other procurement program.  In the past, these exact same purchases were made without even contracts.

While in the past the Board of Education President would sign off on MCPS contracts, purchases can now be made without contracts and without Board of Education approval.  Attached is an example showing the signature of a MCPS staff member in the place marked “Board of Education”.(See page 4) 
1.  Yesterday, the County Council held a hearing on a $2,042,000 Appropriation request from MCPS.  During the course of the hearing it was revealed that MCPS would be buying 2,000 Interactive White Boards from a London based company without the use of competitive bids or a bulk buying contract.  The MCPS Chief Technology Officer simply contacted the company and the deal was made.

What is the result of this? The result if that at least 2 Montgomery County vendors of Interactive White Boards were unable to bid on this procurement that will total $8,900,000, including one vendor that is minority owned.  A MCPS purchase that could have gone to a Montgomery County vendor will instead go to a London based company.
This morning I sent each of you a video clip of the Council hearing yesterday where the no bid purchase was discussed. 
2.  Later in the day, the Montgomery County Board of Education met to discuss putting an artificial turf field at a high school.  Before the Board had even voted on the installation, MCPS staff announced the vendor that would be used for the artificial turf installation.  Once again, this is a foreign based company and companies based in the United States are unable to bid on this procurement.  The vendor for the construction was picked before any formal bidding process.
There really is no solution to the problem of MCPS skirting procurement laws.  My information is just to notify you that procurement laws are not working and are unenforceable.
3.  In January of 2009, the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits released their last Audit of Montgomery County Public Schools.  We are almost 4 years from when that Audit was released. Our public school system has a budget of over $2 billion dollars.  That’s over $8.4 billion dollars that has been spent without an Audit.  The timing of State Audits needs to be every 2 years, not every 4 to 6.

4.  The State Board of Education has no time limit on when they must release Opinions from Appeals.  In some cases the State Board of Education has sat on decisions for a year.  This makes the review process of the State Board of Education meaningless.  Please consider placing a time limit on when Opinions of the State Board of Education must be released.
5.  Appeals to the State Board must be filed within 30 days under the current law.  However, there are situations where the parties impacted by a Board of Education decision are not even aware of the Board’s actions until after 30 days.  Please consider extending the time limit on Appeals to protect citizens that may not have notice of Board of Education actions that impact their neighborhood.
Thank you,
Janis Sartucci

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