Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ed-Tech Purchasing Bottlenecks and Bureaucracy Probed in Report

CRPE's new report on the challenges of procuring innovative goods and services is featured in this Education Week article.

An excerpt from the article by Sean Cavanagh:

District officials from big-city school systems offered blunt criticisms of a slow, cumbersome, and often anxiety-choked procurement process for buying educational technology, in a new report that argues that those obstacles can stymie innovation.
The tangled process tends to exclude new and smaller ed-tech companies, and potentially curtail new ideas, say the authors, in a conclusion that echoes previous research on K-12 procurement.

States and school districts set strong regulations on procurement for a reason, of course—to prevent fraud, mismanagement, cronyism, and corruption that can undermine public trust, and cost taxpayers money, potentially many millions of dollars.

But the authors of the paper, Tricia Maas and Robin Lake, say their research suggests many district policies and procedures are woefully outdated and create a "pervasive culture of can't" in which the natural instinct of various administrators and departments with some connection to purchasing is to play it overly safe, slow the process down, and in many cases stick with companies with an established track record.
In an interview, Maas and Lake said that meaningful changes to procurement practices almost certainly can only be made by superintendents or school boards, both of whom have the power to dictate change across offices and departments.

The mindset among district has to go from total "risk-aversion to risk-management," Lake said. "It takes very strong leadership."

Districts can take other steps to improve the procurement process, the authors contend.
Read the full article.

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