NC Department of Information Technology issues scathing rebuke of Superintendent Mark Johnson’s Istation procurement process

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On Monday, the Department of Information Technology issued a scathing rebuke of NC Superintendent Mark Johnson’s handling of the troubled Istation contract award process.  

The entire order is posted at the bottom so you can see it for yourself, but read on for the most important highlights.

In upholding its stay of Istation’s contract while it conducts a thorough review of the procurement, DIT noted the following:

1)  DPI didn’t fully consider the required evaluation factors of the procurement as mandated by state law.

There is sufficient information before the undersigned presented in the parties’ filings and during oral argument to indicate that NCDPI failed to fully consider the minimum required factors listed in N.C. Sess. Law. 2017-57 § 7.27.(c), and instead, relied on other evaluation factors.

2.  DPI changed the evaluation criteria in the middle of the procurement process in a way that benefited Istation.

There is sufficient information before the undersigned presented in the parties’ filings to indicate that NCDPI not only changed the evaluation criteria, but altered the ranking of the importance of remaining criteria in a way that benefited Istation.

3.  DPI altered the scope and intent of negotiations without notifying DIT.

According to NCDPI’s Request for Cancellation completed on 21 March 2019, NCDPI communicated to NCDIT that it would use the evaluation criteria contained in RFP No. 40-RQ20680730 in its negotiations with Amplify and Istation. There is sufficient information before the undersigned presented in the parties’ filings and oral arguments to indicate that NCDPI materially altered the intent or scope of the solicitations during negotiations and did not notify NCDIT of these changes in violation of 09 NCAC 06B .0316.

4.  DPI removed all evaluation panel members who voted for Amplify’s mClass tool, retaining only those who had previously voted for Istation.

“There is sufficient information before the undersigned presented in the parties’ filings and oral arguments to indicate that NCDPI removed all evaluation panel members who voted for Amplify in the fall of 2018 during the RFP process, and in selecting a vendor during subsequent negotiations, NCDPI retained only those evaluation panel members who had previously voted for Istation.

In summary, DPI “failed to comply with applicable statutory law and information technology procurement rules…and jeopardized the integrity and fairness of the procurement process.”

DIT did deny Amplify’s attempt to block the Memorandum of Understanding between Istation and DPI which allows Istation to operate in North Carolina free of charge pending the outcome of the ongoing review.  That decision allows Istation to get more and more firmly entrenched in North Carolina’s schools while DIT’s review continues.

Still, it appears that the writing could be on the wall for Istation and its North Carolina contract.

The week of January 13 a hearing will be held which should determine whether this case is decided in Istation or Amplify’s favor.

Hours after DIT issued its decision, Mark Johnson released the following official statement referring to the hearing officer that made the ruling as incompetent. It’s the same officer that will rule on the case next month. Brilliant move, Superintendent Johnson.

Order-on-Motion-to-Reconsider-the-Stay

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