A Call to Action – Seeking No-Bid Contract Whistleblowers in New York City Public Schools

    Guest column

    By Malia Politzer

    Since Mayor Bloomberg took office in 2002, no-bid contracts have ballooned from roughly $700,000 per year to $40 million.

    We are three graduate students at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University investigating why this jump in no-bid contracts within Department of Education took place.

    By filing a Freedom of Information Law request, we’ve acquired a list of every no-bid registered with the city comptroller’s office during the span of the Bloomberg administration. But sources tell us that there are even more no-bid contracts that are not filed with comptroller.

    Here’s where you come in. We’ve been doing our homework—but there are hundreds of no-bid contracts, and only three of us. We need your help to narrow the scope of our investigation.

    Linked here is a complete list of no-bid contracts filed with the City Comptroller’s office under mayoral control. This second list is narrowed down to no-bid contracts for technology, teacher trainings, testing, and data-collection.

    We’re requesting that concerned teachers, parents, officials within the DOE—or anyone else with inside knowledge and an interest in improving education—take a look at this list and tell us if there are any contracts that they think ought to be further investigated.

    Our focus is on data, testing, and teacher trainings. Who’s making money off of these contracts, and should they be? Are the contracts going to the right vendors? Are any companies getting the contracts because of insider-connections (a wife, friend, golfing-buddy etc.) Are testing, trainings or data-taking actually effective in public schools?

    Are you an educator who is suspicious about a why your school is using a specific testing system or data collection method? Are there certain teacher trainings that feel like a waste of time, and that you think providers aren’t qualified to give? Or perhaps you are a vendor who lost a contract with the DOE you feel you should have gotten? Do you know people who used to work in contracting in the DOE? Email me.

    You can reach me anytime at my email address: malia.n.politzer@gmail.com.

    We also want to talk to parents, teachers, students, and administrators about execution – are these no-bids getting the bang for their buck? Are the teacher trainings beneficial, or a waste of time? Are that data-taking initiatives helpful or hurtful? Testing?

    If you have information, experience, or opinions on these issues – please take a look at these contracts, and contact me directly. Thank you for your help.

    Complete no-bid contrast list: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=psLbSNUMNpHIwlHtKh77zYQ&hl=en
    Narrowed-down by topic: http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=psLbSNUMNpHJnEjTRevhYfg

    Malia Politzer
    Stabile Fellow
    Columbia Graduate School of Journalism
    c: 480-316-9696

    Ed Note:
    Check the list above of no bid contracts and see if your school used any of them. Let Malia know how the vendors did. Were there any signs they got the bid because they had naked pictures of Joel Klein?

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A Call to Action – Seeking No-Bid Contract Whistleblowers in New York City Public Schools

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