“I shouldn’t swear,” Council Chair Phil Mendelson said exasperatedly during a DCPS hearing Friday, “but what kind of B.S. is this? I mean, really?”
Only the politician known by the moniker “the nitpicker” could get so heated about the decidedly dull issue of contracting, which was the subject of the special public roundtable convened by the chairperson last week. Look below the mind-numbingly technical surface of these issues, however, and you can see some good reasons the normally reserved Mendelson spent much of the hearing in high dudgeon.
Mendelson’s aggravation stemmed from his recent discovery that D.C. Public Schools officials have been skirting the Council’s review process for large contracts for at least the past few years. D.C. agencies are supposed to submit any deal valued at $1 million or more to the Council for approval before executing it (a process that is generally a formality for all but the most politically sensitive subjects), and it seems DCPS has failed to do so in something like 13 separate instances since January 2021, according to information the school system provided to Mendelson. That amounts to roughly $113 million in spending where lawmakers never exercised any oversight at all, or DCPS already started awarding work to companies before sending contracts to the Council.
“As someone who used to engage in the procurement process at DCPS, I know that sometimes things can happen,” said At-Large Councilmember Christina Henderson. “But for the volume of contracts that are being submitted retroactively, I think something else is going on here.”
Click here to read the rest of the article written by Alex Koma over at Washington City Paper
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