Mississippi Department of Education terminating software contract after already paying $840,000

The five year contract would’ve cost a total of $5.55 million.
A new software program that cost more than $800 thousand of your taxpayer money is now being...
A new software program that cost more than $800 thousand of your taxpayer money is now being stopped. Superintendents and Special Education Directors around the state got the announcement via email August 31.(WLBT)
Updated: Sep. 5, 2018 at 7:22 PM CDT
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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are spent on a program that’s now being scrapped.

The Department of Education is cancelling the launch of a new software system to keep track of the individualized education plans for special education students.

Board meeting minutes and the contract show the Board of Education approved a contract with Public Consulting Group, Inc., based out of Boston in September of last year.

Now, the contract will be ended effective September 30. The contract for the new software system to manage special education data totaled $5.55 million over the course of five years.

MDE entered into a five year contract with software company Public Consulting Group, Inc. in...
MDE entered into a five year contract with software company Public Consulting Group, Inc. in 2017. Districts were notified August 31 that the system would no longer have a launch date of October 1.(Transparency Mississppi)

A closer look at the invoices tied to that contract reveal that the state had already paid out $840,000 to the company.

We’ve obtained a copy of this email that was sent to superintendents and special education director’s across the state Friday. It explains that the Mississippi IEP Data Accountability System (MIDAS) is being discontinued and will no longer launch on October 1.

“It was a little surprising honestly and mostly surprising because from the department we received no indication that there was anything amiss with this project,” noted Jennifer Boykin, Pearl Public School District Special Education Director.

MIDAS was supposed to help streamline how the state handles all that data and provide a uniformed software system for all district.

The Department of Education said they were getting good feedback from schools, but it wasn’t discovered until this summer that the last steps of the system weren’t working.

“The interface between the MIDAS system and its ability to transmit data back and forth to local student packages as well as to MSIS at the state level,” explained MDE Chief Academic Officer Nathan Oakley.

Without that ability, it defeated the purpose of the system.

“Despite some ongoing conversation back and forth with the vendor, we were not able to find a solution to that without significant additional costs both to the state with manpower and finances, as well as, at the local level as regard to the technology staff and potential costs outside the MIDAS contract,” added Oakley.

Meanwhile, we’ve learned that the state director of special education no longer works for MDE. Starting Friday, an interim director was listed on the website. That coincides with the cancellation of the new software system contract but MDE would not respond to whether the two events are connected.

MDE says there could still be more payments due to the software company before it’s all said and done. But say it will not exceed the agreed upon amount for the first year which was $1.2 million.

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