Thursday, February 19, 2015

Is It Possible the "New" PEP under de Blasio is even less transparent than under Bloomberg?

Letter from Public Advocate, CM Dromm and Class Size Matters about need for transparency with $1.25B contract

February 18, 2015


VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
Vanessa Leung, Chair
Department of Education Panel for Educational Policy
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Robert Powell, Chair
Department of Education Committee on Contracts
65 Court Street, 12th Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Dear Ms. Leung and Mr. Powell:

We are writing to express our concern about the lack of transparency around spending and contracts at the Department of Education (DOE). It has come to our attention that on February 25th, 2015, the DOE Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will vote on a five year contract for IT services totaling almost $1.25 billion, and almost no information has been provided about the contract.

It is not secret that the DOE has a deplorable record when it comes to issuing technology contracts. Millions of dollars have been sacrificed due to mismanagement, waste, and corruption. It is shocking that the DOE thinks it is acceptable to vote on another contract without full disclosure and vetting available to the community, elected officials, and the public at large.

The contract in question is for Custom Computer Specialists to provide IT networking hardware and installation services at $224.8 million per year. This little amount of information was posted on the DOE website. However, no information has been provided about the particulars of the contract, whether it was competitively bid, or what investigations the DOE may have done concerning the record and/or background of this company.

DOE officials have stated that PEP members receive more documentation for its contracts five to six days before the vote, but this information is only posted to the public one business day before the vote. Even this promise of limited transparency is false. For the most recent vote on January 29th, information on the contracts was not posted until several days after. We are calling on the DOE to post the full documentation for all contracts at least ten days before the vote – at the same time as the list of contracts is made public.

Simply put: transparency and accountability must be the bedrock of any contracts issued using public money.

We are also calling on the DOE to make public the full documentation and information for the Custom Computer Specialists contract as soon as possible. If the DOE refuses, we urge you – as appointees whose role is to represent the interests of the public – to make this information available as soon as you receive it. 

Sincerely,


Letitia James
Public Advocate for the City of New York

Danny Dromm
Councilmember, Chair of the NYC Council Education Committee


digital signature-1
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director, Class Size Matters


Cc:          DOE Chancellor Carmen Fariña

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