Education wants out of IT management business

As part of a forthcoming program, the agency wants to migrate its operations to an infrastructure owned and operated by a contractor.

Education Department Utility for Communications, Applications, and Technical Environment (EDUCATE)

The Education Department seeks a broad range of information technology infrastructure services to replace its existing EDNet Support Services contract and migrate to an environment owned and operated by the contractor.

The Education Department Utility for Communications, Applications and Technical Environment, or EDUCATE, is made up of the agency’s enterprise and business-specific applications, servers, phone and voice messaging systems, and devices for network, storage and security.

The contractor will provide managed services for desktop and help-desk support, systems and data operations, e-mail, network, disaster recovery and printers for all Education facilities, according to its recent request for proposals on FedBizOpps.

The contract will have a base period of 14 months for transition and operations followed by nine one-year options.

Education will use service-level agreements to set expectations for performance and monitor outcomes. The agency wants to quickly, efficiently and effectively provide and maintain a standard IT platform and infrastructure to improve its services to students and customers, better manage programs and reduce operational risk.

Proposals are due June 18.

In a related matter, the department's inspector general found that Education needs to better manage the performance of its EDNet contract for acquiring IT network services.

The contract, managed by the chief information officer and the Contracts and Acquisitions Management Office under the chief financial officer, lacks effective incentives and disincentives for timely enforcement of an acceptable level of performance, the IG reports.

Education also did not properly evaluate a contract modification to determine whether a reduction in cost was appropriate for the lower level of effort needed to meet an acceptable level of performance.

Education awarded Computer Sciences Corp. the 10-year contract in 2005.

“As a result, the contractor had little incentive to perform during the base year ending June 2006 or in the final year of the contract. Services provided during the base year were rated as unacceptable, and the department’s ability to improve performance was hampered,” said Education IG John Higgins Jr.

Education officials provided insufficient direction to the contractor and changed the scope, requirements and due dates for some deliverables, resulting in the agency paying for services it did not receive, he said in the report.

Education has since put in place an action plan from the IG’s recommendations, including:

  • Fix the contractor’s performance issues and ensure minimum levels of quality.
  • Modify the current EDNet contract to obtain an adjustment for any reduced level of performance.
  • Transition the Management Information Dashboard to the agency’s systems and maintain it.
  • Establish a process to track the receipt of deliverables, review them and write a recommendation to the contract officer for their acceptance or rejection.

NEXT STORY: Managing IM in the office