CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Allegations by Mountain State Justice that clashes with the Board of Education over awarding no-bid contracts contributed to Jorea Marple's firing as state Superintendent of Schools are difficult to collaborate, based on state Purchasing Division records.
During Marple's tenure, the Board of Education was approved for sole-source determinations for four contracts: Carnegie Learning in Pittsburgh; Worldwide Interactive Network in Kingston, Tenn.; Avant Assessment in Eugene, Ore.; and Edvantia -- the only contract with an apparent West Virginia connection, with the company's president being Doris Redfield of Charleston.
In a comparable 19-month period prior to Marple's tenure, the Board of Education had seven requests for sole-source determinations, and two were denied. Ironically, one of the two not approved as a sole-source contract was Globaloria, an educational games software company created by Idit Caperton, wife of former Gov. Gaston Caperton -- which some have alluded to as one of the fights over no-bid contracts.
That sole-source determination was denied on Aug. 14, 2009.
Allow me to interrupt here with a quick lesson on how sole-source determinations work.
Although no-bid contracts sound nefarious, the process has the same level of transparency as bidding for any other state contract. (Although, as we've seen, transparency doesn't eliminate bid-rigging or tampering.)
When a state agency believes a good or service it is seeking is uniquely offered by one vendor, instead of going out for bids, that agency can make a request for a sole-source determination, which is published in the weekly Purchasing Bulletin, along with all other RFPs and RFQs.
If any other vendor out there believes it offers the same product or service, it notifies the Purchasing Division, which if verified, disapproves the sole-source determination. At that point, the agency goes back and puts out a request for bids on the contract.
Either way, the evidence from the Purchasing Division records suggest that the Board of Education was not going gangbusters with no-bid contracts prior to Marple's tenure, nor were no-bid contracts abruptly halted after Marple became superintendent.
The sole-source determinations approved during her tenure were dated May 9 and Nov. 9, 2011, and Jan. 3 and March 11, 2012.