Opinion
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School Improvement RFP of the Week (2): How Much Sole-Source Business Should ED Do With CCSSO?

July 28, 2008 3 min read

RFPs identify business opportunities, but they are also a neglected primary source for research on k-12 policy and operations. Policy is not just what you say, or how you allocate resources, it’s what you buy. From Monday’s issue of K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report.

Announcement: Sole Source Notice - ADI - State Education Data Center/ K-12 and P-20 Data Models Due August 7 (Jul 22) U.S. Department of Education


Their Description:
The Department of Education intends to make a sole source award to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), located in Washington, D.C., for enhancements to its State Education Data Center (SEDC) to expand public access and use of education data.

CCSSO will be tasked with building a link between its SEDC and the Department’s EDFacts submission system; continuing to host the SEDC’s free and publicly accessible website, SchoolDataDirect.org; expanding the data download capacity currently available on SchoolDataDirect.org; providing a Help Desk to assist website users in accessing, downloading, and understanding the available data; conducting outreach activities to promote awareness of the SEDC and its services; and organizing and convening a technical advisory group to guide technical enhancements made to SchoolDataDirect.org....

The contractor shall work with representatives (selected in consult with USED) from the national elementary and secondary education community and other national non-profit education groups, to improve the transparency and accessibility of education data through a State Education Data Center (SEDC). One goal of the SEDC will be to efficiently serve the information needs of policy groups and the public by increasing the coordination of data requests made upon state education agencies. This coordination will help to reduce burden and increase technical assistance to the state education agencies as they improve their own data capabilities.

Through the SEDC, the contractor shall work with national groups to organize the annual data requests of the elementary and secondary education community; host an online repository of this information; provide additional download capabilities for the data; provide technical assistance to state education agencies on the collection, use and reporting of education performance and statistical information; and assist the public with access and understanding of education data.

The contractor shall work with USED and its EDEN Operations Maintenance and Enhancements contractor, currently Perot Systems....

In addition, the contractor must demonstrate.... Familiarity with the Coordinated Data Ask.... A thorough understanding of EDFacts.... Established relationships with State Education Agencies (SEAs), and a solid understanding of SEA accountability systems and data processes.... Capacity to convene working groups.

CCSSO is uniquely qualified in having both the necessary infrastructure in place as well the desired competencies, experiences, and skills. CCSSO’s website, SchoolDataDirect.org, meets all of the infrastructure requirements outlined above.... CCSSO’s membership includes 49 of the 50 SEAs, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.... CCSSO led the development of the Coordinated Data Ask with the Data Quality Campaign.... provides contractual support to the Department for EDFacts.... provides builds on the expertise of its membership to develop and disseminate resources on accountability and data systems.... regularly convenes chief state school officers, SEA accountability directors, and SEA data administrators....

In sum, the existing infrastructure together with the expertise and experience found at CCSSO make this organization uniquely qualified to conduct the work required under the proposed procurement.

My Thoughts: I’m not saying this work doesn’t justify a sole source, although I’m not saying it dues. I am asking readers to consider the extent to which an trade group that represents the vast bulk of decisions faced by an agency, should work for that agency. These two parties are hardly operating at arms length.

K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report is a comprehensive weekly web-enabled report delivered by email on Monday. It covers grant and contract RFPs issued by every federal and state education and social services agency and every school district over the internet.

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