Thursday, November 13, 2014

WSJ gives Mississippi its place in the sun on a no-bid contract.

No bid contracts seem to be the norm instead of the exception in Mississippi.  The Wall Street Journal gave Mississippi some nice publicity yesterday.  It seems our Department of Education awarded a no-bid contract for Common Core testing after it was rejected by the contract review board.

As states race to implement the Common Core academic standards, companies are fighting for a slice of the accompanying testing market, expected to be worth billions of dollars in coming years.

That jockeying has brought allegations of bid-rigging in one large pricing agreement involving 11 states—the latest hiccup as the math and reading standards are rolled out—while in roughly three dozen others, education companies are battling for contracts state by state.

Mississippi’s education board in September approved an emergency $8 million contract to Pearson PLC for tests aligned with Common Core, sidestepping the state’s contract-review board, which had found the transaction illegal because it failed to meet state rules regarding a single-source bid....

Mississippi and Maryland are two of the states that banded together in 2010, intending to look for a testing-service provider together. The coalition of 11 states plus the District of Columbia hoped joining forces would result in a better product at a lower price, but observers elsewhere shared some of Mr. Franchot’s concerns.

The bidding process, which both states borrowed from a similar New Mexico contract, is now the subject of a lawsuit in that state by a Pearson competitor.

For decades, states essentially set their own academic standards, wrote their own curricula and designed their own tests. In a bid partly to help the U.S. education system keep up with overseas rivals, state leaders began working on shared benchmarks.

With financial and policy incentives from the Obama administration, 45 states and D.C. initially adopted Common Core. But the standards have faced pushback from some parents and conservatives who say they represent federal overreach. Two states have pulled out and are writing their own standards....

The $2.46 billion-a-year U.S. testing market is seeing more competition beyond the three traditional powers of Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Co. and McGraw-Hill Education CTB, according to Simba Information, a market-research firm. While McGraw-Hill recently got a $72 million contract for assessment services with several states, meanwhile, midsize vendors such as AIR Assessment and Educational Testing Service are winning big states like Florida and California..... Rest of article.
More information about the no bid contract in this September Clarion-Ledger story.  MDE had lawyers who are familiar with the state purchasing laws.  MDE tried to save money by cooperating with other states but didn't bother to check the laws first- or get an AG opinion as was its right to do so.  Oh well, at least the Dr. Wright is not wearing gold Rolex watches.  Yet.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now what state was listed as the most corrupt in the country? 1. Mississippi

2. Louisiana

3. Tennessee

4. Illinois

5. Pennsylvania

6. Alabama

7. Alaska

8. South Dakota

9. Kentucky

10. Florida

Anonymous said...

That isn't exactly right. After denying the multi-year contract, the contract review board approved the 1 year emergency contract because of the timing, but said "don't bring us this again".

Anonymous said...

It seems that many people in the position of authority don't think RULES are necessary for them to follow. They seem to think they have better judgment when making decisions than those pesky rules- that, or they want their (often hidden)bank accounts to reflect their true worth as they see it.
I hope every stinkin' one of them throughout the State gets exposed and shamed.
Unadulterated greed for money and power is the common element.

Anonymous said...

Even bid contracts are problematic here.

The RFPs can and too often, are written so the details fit the desired contractor but not that contractor's competition.

And, worse, the specifications for the job get written knowing that quality will suffer so a favored contractor who couldn't meet quality specs can win the bid.

And, of course, you want to favor MS and local contractors ( after all, they contribute to campaigns ). That's not all bad unless it sacrifices quality and ends up say, like the jail.

Anonymous said...

"....at least she's not wearing a gold Rolex..."....yet! Give it time. She just got here from D.C.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful bounty we are reaping after years of Republicrats running our state government. Rampant corruption, the pardoning of murderers and inciting racial animus for political gain has led Mississippi to brighter days.

Anonymous said...

Bidding will change nothing. The company that is to receive the work just writes the bid specs. When a RFP or bid is prepared the selection is made at that time. State staff overseeing these kind of huge projects are not equip for this level of work. Rules can slow down crooks but not stop them.

Anonymous said...

What amazes me the incredible amount of effort it takes, by individuals, to vault Mississippi to the top of the MOST CORRUPT list. With only 3 million citizens , we have achieved a distinction that many would deem impossible. The time it takes to plan and implement such devious behavior must be enormous. Imagine if all this effort were channeled into productive, legal behavior? We would be the wealthiest state in America. This didn't just happen overnight. This took decades to mature with generations of Mississippians passing down their lack of ethics to the next generation. The inheritance received was a broken moral compass. SEE Haley Barbour for definition of Corrupt Turd

Get It Right... said...

Great journalism here, Kingfish... Except there's no context given. Dig deeper and you'll see that the State Contract Review Board told MDE to sole source the contract... Which they did. Then, after Deputy Dog (the Gov) and other officials got involved, they suddenly had a change of heart after nearly a year of screwing around.

When they finally rejected it, essentially an Emergency did exist... School has started and you test kids in December. Kids graduate based on those exams. The procurement process had been going on for more than a year. So, yeah, you approve the contract and move on.

Nice witch hunt here... but context, like everything else, is very important here. Also, way not to taint the pool with the Rolex comment. If you think there's money changing hands in some way, put up or shut up... otherwise don't besmirch someone just because you don't understand all the details.

Kingfish said...

Hold on spud, this was a WSJ and CL story. I posted because I thought it was interesting a well known national newspaper was mentioning a no bid contract in state government after what took place with Epps and MDOC.

Mississippi Department of Education said...

The Mississippi Department of Education followed the state’s Personal Service Contract Review Board (PSCRB) directives to prepare the testing contract for approval, including submission as a sole-source procurement. After being assured by PSCRB staff that the MDE’s contract with Pearson Inc. was proceeding appropriately and that MDE was acting upon the advice of PSCRB, PSCRB staff informed the MDE in September 2014 that MDE’s contract would not be placed on the PSCRB’s Board meeting agenda for approval. Given the timing, the MDE was left with only one option – to seek an emergency procurement.

The emergency contract was necessary to ensure that Mississippi public schools would have an appropriate state assessment to measure student learning for the 2014-15 school year. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, as well as state law, requires states to test students annually on what has been taught.

Read the full timeline of events here: http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/telephone-directory/mde-news/2014/09/23/mde-outlines-pscrb-process-to-secure-new-state-assessments

Mississippi Department of Education said...

The Mississippi Department of Education followed the state’s Personal Service Contract Review Board (PSCRB) directives to prepare the contract for approval, including submission as a sole-source procurement. After being assured by PSCRB staff that the MDE’s contract with Pearson Inc. was proceeding appropriately and that MDE was acting upon the advice of PSCRB, PSCRB staff informed the MDE in September 2014 that MDE’s contract would not be placed on the PSCRB’s Board meeting agenda for approval. Given the timing, the MDE was left with only one option – to seek an emergency procurement.

The emergency contract was necessary to ensure that Mississippi public schools would have an appropriate state assessment to measure student learning for the 2014-15 school year. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, as well as state law, requires states to test students annually on what has been taught.

Read the full timeline of events here: http://www.mde.k12.ms.us/telephone-directory/mde-news/2014/09/23/mde-outlines-pscrb-process-to-secure-new-state-assessments

Anonymous said...

9:37....The commenter at 9:15 was, I believe, directing those comments at you as well. An apologist for the morally bankrupt. Plus you must have a bad case of Common Core because your reading skills are found to be wanting. The KF set you straight with his pesky rod of facts.

Anonymous said...

Yes Yes 9:37, nothing to see here...NOW WHERES THAT PAPER BAG WITH ALL THE MONEY???? AND MY GOLD WATCH DAMNITS!

Anonymous said...

Butler Snow represents Pearson

Anonymous said...

Mississippi, no doubt. has a lot of corruption convictions. But it's not always, or even often, listed as "the most corrupt state." Here's a WaPo article providing some perspective.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/01/22/the-most-corrupt-states-in-america/

Anonymous said...

How do people come up with all these ways to waste money, esp in education. "as well as state law, requires states to test students annually on what has been taught." here is an easy way free way to test, do what we used to do....JUST GIVE THEM A DAMN TEST. Worked great 50 years ago....teacher makes up the test and the kids take it. Teachers grade it and VOILA! What are we paying teachers for....and why do we need to pay some outside firm to make up a damn test?

Anonymous said...

This is a public service announcement. Thanksgiving is November 27,Christmas is December 25 and New Years Eve is December 31. The Mississippi Highway Patrol will be enforcing the state DUI laws. This message was made possible and brought to you as a reminder by Frontier Strategie's $1,000,000. emergency no bid contract awarded by the Dept.of Public Safety. Thanks ya'll and Merry Christmas. May our days by prosperous and bright, Josh, Quinton and all.(ps-we hate those guys at MDA)

Anonymous said...

PSCRB has issued this 11/11/2014: At the direction of Governor Phil Bryant and effective immediately, the processing and approval of all contracts based upon an agency head’s sole-source designation are indefinitely suspended to determine what, if any, additional safeguards should be implemented for sole-source procurements. Contracts that are submitted as sole-source based upon a binding, valid court order mandating a particular provider will continue to be processed and presented to the Board for action. The suspension applies to all sole-source requests whether it is a request for approval of a new contract or the renewal or modification of an existing contract.

Kingfish said...

I heard the same excuse last year about the DPS contract. The RFP was screwed up, they were running out of time, etc etc etc

Anonymous said...

Words cannot express my contempt for Federal control of local schools. I do not believe Common Core will do anything toward education, just will skew the testing. Education should be at the State level, period. If the Feds would get their nose out of every local matter, then the States would have more money to spend on what is needed. Single source contracts deserve a hard look, every time.

Anonymous said...

Here is a sample of a test I will submit to the state for free so they won't have to pay these outside groups. MATH. 2x2? ANSWER 4. Any other answer is WRONG. HISTORY. WHO WAS THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE United States? Answer. George Washington. ANY OTHER ANSWER IS WRONG. SCIENCE: What is the formula as often written for water? ANSWER. H2o ANY OTHER ANSWER IS WRONG.

Anonymous said...

On somewhat of a different note, but perhaps related in a way, why has NO ONE in the so called Mississippi press and media not dug and reported deeper into why the US Attorney, Davis, in Jackson, Southern District, recused himself completely from the MDOC scandal prosecutions? Biggest white collar crime in his term as US Attorney and he punts?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mississippi is just more active in pursuit of these crimes.

Correro said...

At $300,000 a year, Wright could have a gold rolex if she wanted. Her salary is nearly double our Governor's. #asanine

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Loading...

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel

Who is the hottest reporter?

Archives

Who is the Hottest Reporter in Jackson?

Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS
.