Thursday, February 11, 2016

Looking for volunteers for a Citizen's Oversight Committee on DOE wasteful 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 vote, to allow for more public vetting.

The DOE contract page now includes more  information about these contracts as well as some brief information about contracts to be voted on in March and April.
  • February 24, 2016 Agenda - a 4 page list of  contracts to be voted on at the Feb. 24 PEP  - items #1 through #20, including many multi-million dollar professional development contracts.
Because there will be  many pages of information made available in advance, we are looking to crowd source comments from volunteers as part of a Citizen Oversight Committee -- to help screen and vet these contracts and glean information and concerns that could then be communicated to elected officials and members of the PEP.  Yet as you will see, some of thee contracts to be voted on in two weeks, especially those related to preK vendors, still lack critical information.

There is also a new document, highlighting changes in DOE procurement, which will be voted on at the Feb. 24 PEP as well posted here.  We invite comments on this document as well. 

Earlier, I quoted one section of this document  to the NYC Ed list which demanded that the Panel members should keep confidential any information they learn about the contracts  and act solely in the DOE's interest; instead of urging them to act in the public interest; which are not always the same.

Patrick, who is a former Manhattan member of the PEP who blew the whistle on many corrupt and wasteful contracts when he served on the panel. We are looking for volunteers who have experience with contracting, but also for ordinary parents and citizens who are concerned about the evident waste at DOE, who could spot outrageous contracts with no technical background at all, as I did with the Computer Specialist contract.

As another example, I  also spotted a retroactive contract approved in December, with Scholastic, for "family workshops" at the Renewal schools, where they were charging $2,291 per hour. See page 36:

Clearly the DOE games the system by awarding so many contracts retroactively, but here is a contract that is outrageous in terms of its cost that anyone reading this could spot.

We're also looking for  teachers who may have experience with some of the professional development contracts worth many millions of dollars that the DOE is awarding this month and in the months ahead, to Teacher's college, Pearson, Teaching Matters,  and less well known (at least to me ) outfits like Literacy Support Systems.
We are going to set up a google discussion group for people who want to be involved in this project as well.  Leave comments below or on the contract list posted here; and let me know if you're interested in helping out by emailing us at

Thanks! Leonie

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