Ritz’s office should have put contract up for bid

(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

Sunday, September 4, 2016

With as many problems as the Indiana Department of Education has with ISTEP contracts and statewide perception, it is baffling that it bypassed transparency and didn’t bid out a recent multimillion-dollar technology contract.

Documents and emails obtained by The Associated Press show that state officials were alarmed that the contract was not put out to public bid. In fact, those state officials tried to stop awarding the contract.

The documents also show that the proposal to develop a mobile app for Indiana schools to communicate data such as standardized test scores to the state could be a huge boon for AT&T and its Georgia-based software developer N2N Services.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz praised the mobile app as a new way to communicate with school districts. But even if some districts went for the plan, AT&T and N2N Services would win big because each district would pay more than $100,000 in startup costs.

A contract supervisor with the Indiana Department of Administration wrote in an email that the project should be bid out through an open market solicitation.

But the contract went ahead anyway. Arranging the deal was David Galvin, who was Ritz’s spokesman and one-time political adviser. After the deal was finalized, Galvin went to work for N2N Services as its executive director of marketing and communications.

The whole affair points to more than bad judgment. This is a troubling display of an abuse of power.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.