Last year, when it came to light that the federal government had stopped sending e-rate dollars to Idaho while the state wrestled with a lawsuit filed on behalf of one of the bidders, legislators put a short-term patch on the funding and agreed to cover the costs of the contract through February. In addition to the partial funding fix, lawmakers required that a service audit of the Idaho Education Network be conducted and the results be presented early on in the 2015 session.
The results of that service audit were presented to the members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) on Thursday morning, and the outcomes were disconcerting for members of the panel.
In a report in her Eye on Boise blog, Spokesman Review reporter Betsy Russell reported that more than $200,000 of the $3.35 million spent on state-owned equipment is nowhere to be found (although later in the day, the governor’s office issued a memo stating that 6 of the 8 missing “assets” had been located). Also, the audit showed that more than half of the equipment isn’t even being used.
Lawmakers learned that the number of IEN network-delivered courses has been dwindling over the past few years; fewer than 2,000 Idaho students are taking IEN courses. At the same time, districts have been using the broadband service that comes as a result of the IEN to increase the number of courses delivered by the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA), Idaho’s homegrown online school.
Earlier this week, the governor announced that the contract would be rebid later this year. Senate Finance Chair Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) acknowledged that the court’s decision in declaring the current contract illegal, coupled with the service audit report results, provides an opportunity for the state to re-evaluate and redefine the entire system.
If you are interested, you can read the entire 57-page service audit, courtesy of the Spokesman-Review.