The Department of Education received an “unacceptable” level of service under a $20.6 million technology contract, but instead of penalizing the underperforming vendor, department officials extended the contract by a year and eased its performance requirements, according to a federal audit released last week.
Computer Sciences Corp., an information-technology company based in El Segundo, Calif., holds the contract to run the Education Department’s information system, called the Education Network, or EDNet. The company maintains computer servers and provides messaging services, including BlackBerry service, as well as support for hardware and software under the contract, according to the audit by the department’s inspector general’s office.
The original contract, running from May 2005 to July 2006, set performance targets to measure whether the company helped the department improve delivery of its service commitments to school districts, colleges, and others. The company performed poorly as measured by those targets, according to the April 17 audit.
But last July, the department extended the EDNet contract for a second year, increasing the total contract to $45.8 million.
The Education Department also agreed to changes in the contract that “significantly increased the contractor’s chances of obtaining a higher performance rating without increasing its actual level of effort or performance,” the audit said.
In a March 26 letter appended to the audit, David L. Dunn, the chief of staff to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, said the department concurs with the findings, and that the department had submitted a plan to address the problems, based on the audit’s 19 recommendations.
Computer Sciences Corp. said it was studying the report and had no other comment.
A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2007 edition of Education Week