Education

House Committee Seeks Probe of N.I.E. Bidding

By Charlie Euchner — February 29, 1984 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A Congressional subcommittee, which has concluded that the National Institute of Education committed “several apparent violations” of federal regulations in handling recent bidding for a major grant, has asked for a major probe of the nie’s management of past bidding.

In a letter to Charles A. Bowsher, the comptroller general of the General Accounting Office, the chairman of the Congressional panel said the nie acted illegally when it awarded Harvard University a contract to establish a center to study educational technology.

A spokesman for the gao, the investigative arm of the Congress, said a decision about whether to conduct such an inquiry will be made after it completes another probe related to the circumstances surrounding the Harvard grant. That investigation will be completed by the end of March, the spokesman said.

The nie’s decision to notify Harvard that its bid exceeded the amount of money the agency could spend on the center was “a blatant violation” of Education Department regulations, said Representative Ted Weiss, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Intergovernmental Relations and Human Resources Subcommittee.

Mr. Weiss also said the nie violated federal regulations when it selected Harvard over the Bank Street College of New York despite the fact that Bank Street’s proposal was less expensive and received a higher rating from a committee of experts. Harvard bid $7.6 million for the project, while Bank Street bid $4.4 million.

The investigation sought by Representative Weiss would probe all of the grant decisions made by the nie since it was established in 1972. At the request of Bank Street officials, the gao already is investigating the Harvard grant decision. (See Education Week, Feb. 1, 1984.)

Mr. Weiss asked the gao to determine how often the nie has conducted bidding for contracts, revealed financial data to institutions competing for contracts, awarded contracts to institutions with high bids, and employed personnel who have bid on nie contracts.

Representative Weiss also asked the gao to investigate the extent to which the director of the nie has acted as the contracting officer in past decisions. Central to Bank Street’s protest is the decision by the current director, Manuel J. Justiz, to make the final decision on the bids.

The contracting officer usually makes the final decision based on the findings of the committee of experts, which is assembled by the director, nie officials say. The contracting officer in the bidding for the technology center, Victor Westbrook, has stated that he would have ruled in favor of Bank Street.

Agency Regulations

The Harvard grant marked the first time the nie has funded a research laboratory or center based on competitive bidding. Last fall’s award was announced at a time that the Congress was considering funding cuts for the agency and the Administration was studying changes in the “missions” of the centers.

Education Department regulations forbid giving bidders any information about other bidders or any information that “could give one offer a competitive advantage over another.”

The regulations further state that “price or best-buy analysis should ... become the controlling factor” in selecting two bids of similar technical merits. Representative Weiss asserted that even if “the distinguishable excellence of one bidder over the other was unclear,” the nie therefore should still have selected Bank Street.

A version of this article appeared in the February 29, 1984 edition of Education Week as House Committee Seeks Probe of N.I.E. Bidding


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP