Oversight of DOE Contracts

As part of the reforms promised after the scandal with the $1.1 billion Computer Specialists contract erupted, DOE officials  promised to post more complete information about proposed contracts (called the RA’s) at least a month ahead of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) vote, to allow for more public vetting.

In February 2016, we sought volunteers for a Citizens Contract Oversight Committee to review possibly wasteful contracts, and since then we have continuously reviewed and commented on upcoming education contracts to submit to the PEP.

These PEP RA’s can be found on the DOE’s website here. If you want to volunteer for our Citizen’s Contract Committee, or have a tip to share, please email us at NYCschoolcontractwatch@gmail.com. You can read a primer on purchasing methods employed by the DOE here.

 

You can read about our past comments on DOE contracts here:

June 20, 2016: Comments on Contracts to be Considered at June 22nd, 2016 Panel for Educational Policy Meeting

Among, other issues,  the DOE supplied an additional 51 pages of documentation of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) selected to provide services to Renewal schools with questionable backgrounds — none of which was revealed to the PEP until after they had already voted to approve the contracts in May.

Following criticism of the lack of DOE transparency in vetting CBOs for Renewal Schools (including this article), the DOE released additional information on CBOs receiving contracts.  There were 51 pages of negative findings for the vendors hired to provide services to community schools and no information about exactly what services they were hired to provide and how they were chosen, or an explanation of how they will improve academic results at these schools. Nine of these problems were uncovered by a reporter. Was due diligence done and why did it take a reporter to catch the omissions?

Several vendors had received low ratings from DYCD for poor participation and other problems.  For example, there are many negative findings against one particular vendor, Sports and Arts Schools Foundation (SASF). On two occasions, young children under supervision of SASF staff were lost, including one in the subway system. The incidents resulted in fines and license suspensions for SASF. It would make sense for SASF to reestablish its record of competence with student supervision before taking on additional contracts. For more on these contractors, see this NY Post article.

 

May 16, 2016: Problems with DOE Contracts including lack of information on vendors or those with problematic records and unanswered questions re E-rate consent decree and Amplify

Newsclips on our May comments: Scandal-plagued agencies OK’d to get millions in DOE funds (New York Post), City spends $6.5M to fix up this pre-K school -for 18 kids (New York Post).

 

April 24 2016: The City’s use of a non-profit to pay irresponsible preK vendors and get around the procurement rules

 

April 19, 2016: Comments on Questionable Contracts and Fair Student Funding to be voted on April 20, 2016

Newsclips on our April comments: De Blasio used ‘slush fund’ to support faulty pre-K programs (New York Post), Department of Education wants new contract with ‘shady’ special-ed provider (New York Post)Amazon in line to sell E-books to New York City’s schools (The Wall Street Journal), NYC plans to hire firms involved in dishonest practices for special education services (The Daily News)

 

March 13, 2016: Too Many retroactive DOE sole-source contracts and other problems with proposals to be voted on March 13, 2016

 

February 23, 2016: Comments on the New Procurement Document and Contracts to be Voted on February 24, 2016

 

February 11, 2016: Looking for Volunteer’s for a Citizens Oversight Committee on DOE’s Wasteful Contracts and our initial comments on February 23, 2016 PEP meeting

Newsclips on our formation of a Citizen’s Oversight Committee: Calls for more transparency, oversight in Department of Education Contracting (Gotham Gazette)