Wednesday, August 23, 2006


The New York Daily News just reported that New York City schools forked over $120 million worth of no-bid contracts to consultants, teacher trainers, testing companies and other vendors of ed-related goods and services last year.

It makes you wonder how much of that sort of thing goes on in the Cornhusker State.

No-bid contracts are noncompetitive and lack the typical public oversight that other governmental agencies are required to have whenever expenditures of any significance are going out the door. Naturally, the implication of this "quickie spending" is that the public's money is not being spent wisely, or that actual fandango is going on, if the educrats are ducking the public's OK.

Lots of times, the schools whine that there were "time constraints" that kept them from bidding a certain function out . . . or the new contract was a routine extension of an existing contract . . . or the work to be done was in some way highly specialized and no one else in the whole, wide world could do it.

Yeah. Right. There's just no excuse for that kind of schmaltz, in this high-tech day and age where information is at our fingertips, and worldwide.

What's really bad about no-bid contracts is that they skirt accountability so blatantly. Consider the public scrutiny going on right now over the City of Omaha's quarter of a billion dollar budget. The media coverage, public hearings and other examination of that budget is far more than the attention given to all the budgets of all the school districts in the state, and together, they spend more than eight times as much, over $2 billion a year.

The city's budget discussion is the kind of light and air that we DON'T see with school funding, but we really should. Once place to start would be to do away with no-bid contracts altogether.

In NYC schools, the no-bid contracts amounted to 3% of the total operating expenditures, according to the article. So, for a ballpark figure of how much money we're talking about, 3% of Nebraska's $2 billion in school operating expenditures comes to $60 million a year.

It's possible that that's how much our districts are spending in no-bid contracts . . . that maybe wouldn't hold up to the light of day, if no-bid contracts were banned.

It's a thought!

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