Texas Education Agency receives poor scores on state audit

Texas Education Agency receives poor scores on state audit

(KWES) - A report from the State Auditor's Office has given an evaluation of "significant weakness" on the handling of two outsourced contracts.

The report released in August states the agency did not follow processes designed to maintain the integrity of the two procurements.

The contracts under fire include a $2.9 M deal with Tembo Inc, and a $4.4 M deal with SPEDx.

The Tembo contract began in January 2018 and was for the creation and development of multiple Web pages for the Performance Reporting program area.

Though the S.A.O. found multiple errors in the awarding process, which include:

  • The agency inappropriately requalified Tembo’s proposal after it originally disqualified that proposal for not meeting minimum requirements.
  • The agency incorrectly advanced Tembo’s proposal to the final round over a higher scoring proposal.
  • The agency awarded Tembo the contract over another vendor with the same final score without an explanation for that decision.

Despite the findings in Austin, the T.E.A's contract with Tembo remains in place.

Under the contract, Tembo created TxSchools.org, a website that allows users to view score cards for Texas school districts and individual campuses.

The other contract named in the report was with Sped-X and took effect in May 2017.

SPEDx was contracted for data mining of students' mandated individualized education plans.

Here's a list of findings from the S.A.O:

  • Perform a needs assessment for the procurement prior to selecting SPEDx.
  • Conduct and document adequate market research, advertise the procurement as required, or obtain authority to enter into a sole source contract.
  • Identify and address a preexisting professional relationship between Agency management and a SPEDx subcontractor.

In addition, weaknesses in the Agency's contract formation resulted in the Agency paying SPEDx $2.5 million and receiving only one deliverable valued in the contract at $150,000, before being canceled.

Since the release of the report, the Texas Education Agency has released this statement:

"The Texas Education Agency first initiated a top-to-bottom review of contract processes in November of last year. It has resulted in a massive set of process changes, personnel actions, and steps to address proper documentation. We thank the State Auditor's Office for its additional recommendations to further refine our work. The changes we are making are designed to ensure an agency culture of efficient compliance. Our program staff have consistently followed what they believed were appropriate procedures. However, the SAO noted our internal procedures would not adequately guide staff when exercising due diligence in the contracting process, a sentiment with which we agree given our review. We are committed in all we do to improving student outcomes and getting the best value for taxpayers."

Copyright 2018 KWES. All rights reserved.