TEA v OIG Squabble Continues

Posted in Cronyism, Education, Around The State at 10:54 am by wcnews

This is squabble seems to be boiling down to whether or not a more open bidding system should be used with TEA contracting no matter how competent for the job those who received these no-bid contracts are. The TEA’s response to accusations of cronyism are this:

The “management response,” written by agency Deputy Commissioner Robert Scott and other senior staff members, claims that much of agency Inspector General Michael Donley’s report is inaccurate. The response also seeks to dispel the notion that some people received contracts because of personal ties, and it calls inaccurate Donley’s claim that some at the education agency systematically manipulated contracting procedures.

“The individuals in question all possess the necessary skills needed to complete the tasks they were contracted to do,” the response says.

As South Texas Chisme says that explanation is lacking:

Sounds like the ‘My nephew can tie his own shoes’ defense.

The TEA’s full response to the OIG report can be read here (.DOC) via QR. Yesterday’s issue with the name game aside there still were issues with contracting at the TEA.

Among other issues addressed:

•Donley’s report says that an Austin service center gave a contract to recommend ways to make students more prepared for college and that subcontracts for the project went to three people recommended by Wynn without an interviewing or selection process. One was Miller, Wynn’s ex-wife, and one was Scott’s former executive assistant.

The agency responded that the three subcontractors had “the necessary skill sets to complete the work.”

•A former employee of Jones’ retired from the agency in April 2006 but the next month received a subcontract from a service center to lend technical assistance on financial matters, Donley reported. The head of the service center said Jones, the education agency’s chief operating officer, told him to hire the former employee.

Donley also points out that agency employees are not allowed to return to work for a year after retiring.

The response from management points to an internal rule that allows the agency to contract with an entity that hires a retired employee.

•Donley’s report says that the head of the regional service center in Austin says Christi Martin, a former senior policy adviser at the education agency who now works for the Gates Foundation, directed the center to give a subcontract to a former speechwriter for Neeley. Donley’s report says the former speechwriter assisted an agency official in writing some of the terms of the contract before it was issued.

The agency response says Neeley recommended her former speechwriter, who is no longer working on the project.

•Donley’s report repeatedly notes that contracts were given to regional centers without bids, but agency staff responded that bids were not required by law.

The management response complains that Neeley released Donley’s report without a review by Scott or a written response from anybody implicated in it.

Donley said in an e-mail to top agency staff last week that Scott canceled meetings they set up to go over the report. Scott said Friday that he did not want to respond in private meetings.

“The way to respond to these things is in writing and above board,” Scott said.

First they complain they weren’t allowed to respond and when it comes out they declined to respond they say they wanted to wait for the report to com out to respond. Then what’s the problem?

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