Monday, November 17, 2014

CM Rosenthal urges the Chancellor and the Panel for Education Policy to be more transparent in awarding contracts

Thanks to Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who has written the Chancellor and the members of the Panel for Educational Policy, expressing her concern about the lack of transparency when it comes to the awarding of DOE contracts, with the back-up documentation or "RAs" not posted until the night before the Panel vote.  CM Rosenthal is the chair of the NYC Council Contracts Committee with a special interest in this issue.

Under Bloomberg, these documents were available at least a week before, so it's very sad that the DOE has gone backwards in this regard -- which contributed to the fiasco of the awarding of a no-bid renewal to Joel Rose for his School of One contract, for an online program he developed while at DOE.  The new contract for his School of One contract violated not only the conflict of interest law, but also the terms and the promises in the earlier contract of a perpetual free license for the program to the city's schools.   CM Rosenthal also expresses concern in her letter about a proposed contract for Questar -- which is supposed to produce a new Gifted and talented test for the city at a cost of $6 million, without any record I can find of having ever developed such an exam, or any exam for children as young as four years old. 

Without knowing anything about the specifics in these contracts, whether they were competitively bid and/or whether the companies getting these contracts have been investigated for irregularities in the past, it makes it impossible for the public to be fully informed and be able to comment on these contracts in advance of the vote. Let's hope the Chancellor and the Contract Department of DOE listens -- as well as the PEP members stand up for enhanced transparency, accountability and the public's right to know.

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