Jun 18, 2014 9:29 PM by Dave Fields
The Commissioner of Administration in Jindal's office said that the state has temporarily suspended approval for the contracts signed with the Data Recognition Corporation, the company assigned as consultants for PARCC, the assessments aligned with Common Core.
The Jindal administration says that the temporary suspension is pending a review of the contracts by Office of Contractual Review (OCR).
In a letter from the OCR directly to Superintendent John White, the OCR director tells the superintendent to "please be advised that withdrawal of approval of these contracts immediately suspends the authorization for payment pursuant to those contracts." The letter effectively removes funding from White, who has publicly stated that the Louisiana Department of Education, despite Jindal's executive order at a midday press conference, will continue to implement PARCC and Common Core.
"In the event you (White) dispute any determination made by this Office, you (White) may seek a final determination from the Commissioner of Administration regarding this matter in accordance with Louisiana R.S. 39:1501.," the OCR director concludes.
Commissioner Kristy Nichols said that, contrary to the implication of White's earlier remarks, the Department of Education simply cannot do whatever it pleases.
"The Department of Education has suggested it has unlimited authority to use a state contract, paid for by taxpayers, for a purpose for which it was not intended. Under Louisiana law, the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are prohibited from entering into a contract for the purpose of circumventing the laws governing procurement. For these reasons, we have issued a stay of the services under the contract until the Office of Contractual Review has had an opportunity to review it and obtain more information about how the Department is exercising its authority under the contracts," NIchols said.
A release from the commisioner's office explained the basis for the new review.
"OCR previously reviewed the contracts, which are related to consulting support services for the Department of Education in implementation of state educational assessments. Upon close review of these contracts and amendments to the contracts, it was necessary for OCR to temporarily suspend approval for further review of the scope of the services to be provided and the purchase of goods or supplies associated with the consulting services," the release read.
The OCR letter directly to White explains as much to Superintendent White.
"The Office of Contractual Review previously reviewed certain consulting contracts between the Louisiana Department of Education and Data Recognition Corporation regarding consulting support services being provided to the Department related to implementation of State educational assessment programs. Upon close review of these contracts and amendments, I am hereby retracting approval of the contracts temporarily, pending further review of the scope of the services to be provided under the contracts and the intended purchase of goods or supplies associated with the consulting services. Louisiana R.S. 39:1498, regarding approval of contracts, requires that a contracting agency specify the purpose, duration, specific goals and objectives, measures of performance, and a plan for monitoring the services to be provided under the contract. I have reason to believe that some of the required certifications and supporting documentation may be insufficient. In addition to the review of these two contracts, I will also be reviewing any other similar consulting contracts with the Department to ensure compliance with Louisiana laws and regulations," the director tells White.