Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New technology contracts

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Important new thread:

PPS agenda review material

Has anyone else noticed the vast array of technology equipment moving on PEPPM contracts instead of local bids?

PEPPM has always been a good price for a single item, not for bulk.

Here's a real gem from the June agenda: a 5 year contract at almost $2 million a year with Xerox to "consolidate" copiers. The contract is charged to "various" accounts and is supposed to save a million a year.

Well, if you look at the PPS budget, the entire cost for copiers is less than $1 million today!!!!!!!! And that includes the cost of two staff positions to run the central print shop.

Is every board member asleep? Ask for the account lines, all of them and with it a five year detailed report in those accounts of the copier transactions.

Also tucked away in the report is a "donation" of time from Microsoft K12 to study the district's processes. This isn't a donation, this is a sales call for a new human resources and financial system.

Start looking backwards at the conferences CIO Mark Campbell has attended; something here really stinks."

And then anon2 wrote:

"Ordinary people sitting at home for a few minutes on the computer after sending the kids to school and before heading to work are dumbstruck by posts like the previous one from anonymous 6:27. Perhaps it is time for A+ Schools to stop watching the board and direct some energy and time to delving into the area of fiscal responsibility at the district."


Questioner said...

What is PEPPM?

Is there any way that this contract saves PPS money, or puts more printed lesson material into the hands of students?

Anonymous said...

"Start looking backwards at the conferences CIO Mark Campbell has attended; something here really stinks"

Where can we find that information? Could you post the conferences? He is hard to find on the PPS website.

Anonymous said...


PEPPM is a technology purchase and bidding program run by the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit.

No, there is no way this is saving money. The district's central print shop, run on two shifts, was capable of producing well over 3 million images a month. The district distributed testing and other academic materials right through its truck fleet on their mail runs from this central hub.

Additionally, you may recall from the presentation by Department of Education officials through their "Common Cents" initiative just over two years ago that they were so please with the manner in which Pittsburgh bid its copiers that they wanted the district to serve as a regional coordinator for copier bids in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The presentation was done right at a Business Finance committee meeting.

Finally, you can go on the district's purchasing page under bids and look at the two most recent specifications. The machines already in use are multifunctional in nature (copy, scan, print, email, etc.). For this Xerox contract to be more than twice the cost of current equipment, I suspect that it also includes the buyout of existing lease-purchase agreements.

Even if the concept here was to pull out every single desktop printer from the district and use only copiers, the annual savings in cartridges plus the existing hardware budget for the central print shop does not come close to $2 million. To deliver on the claim that this contract will save $1 million on top of what PPS spends today, Xerox would literally have to write a check.

Anonymous said...

Anon, funny you should mention the CIO.

If you want to see examples of academic fraud up close and personal, start by following this job posting link:


Then notice how the PPS job posting for the same job is pure cut and paste:


But as a special surprise for our loyal readers, we are not done yet! Look at this job posting:


Then look at the PPS CIO version:


No shame in his game. Lots of trips out of the district, big contracts for special friends, pushing three of the best technology employees out of the district. All at the same time PPS and public schools in general are under assault.


Anonymous said...

I find this confusing and I am not connecting the dots between, LA, a university in St Lous & Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I can help clarify.

Because the job descriptions were plagiarized by the CIO from these two other entities (e.g. a university) the actually contain comical errors:

1. The one PPS job description reads: "Apply broad industry and enterprise knowledge to identify solutions and maintain an application development roadmap that supports Belkin’s strategic and operational business goals."

The word I call your attention to is "Belkin."

2. The other PPS job description reads: "Knowledge of network and telecommunication resources, services, and applications appropriate for a university environment."

The word I call your attention to is university.

My point is that for an organization that had the hubris to believe it could "certify" teachers to be this sloppy in their efforts to hire staff is an absurd.

We'll see what PPS does with regard to the academic fraud of plagarizing the job descriptions. That will be telling for an educational institution that aspires to "Excellence for All."

Anonymous said...


Is this part of the why the Mac push and IPads for all?

Anonymous said...

Is the reference to the tech 3 open positions listed on PPS? I noticed they are not posted on Indeed, Dice or anywhere else. Did 3 people leave or are they new positions?

Anonymous said...

Go to the main PPS website:


In the box that says "Staff" click on employment. Choose the area on the next page (central office).

Questioner said...

The Board didn't ask much about this new hire at its televised meeting last fall; the main question seemed to be, what race is he.

Anonymous said...

Checked out his linked in profile. Very thin resume, and a scary history of very short employment.

Who is he? I don't recall reading anything about him being hired. I looked him up online and I got his linked in and a few PPS board mentions.

He is flying under the radar, not sure why.

Anonymous said...

The errors on the job descriptions are hysterical, but really sad.

How unprofessional.

Jeremy said...

in reference to the Anonymous posting time stamped: June 14, 2011 6:13 PM

one of the 'three of the best technology employees out of the district' need to check themselves, or their friends and family.
It takes real guts to fling accusations and insults from the anonymity of the internet, but what this amounts to is libel.
Yes, sometimes, things happen that are frustrating to you, but how do you expect satisfaction by behaving this way? The answer is, you don't ... you're angry and/or upset, as is your right, but wouldn't it be more constructive to engage in an actual conversation about these concerns with Mark Campbell, instead of venting to an audience that you intend only to upset?
In fact, I think Mark says it best:
"Bring me solutions"
If you're so sure that you have the right idea, be bold enough to share it, so that progress can be made.

It's my understanding that the Board of Directors holds public hearings specifically to provide a voice to concerned citizens (or, I suspect, employees).

My name is Jeremy, and I work for PPS, and I can't decide if your concern is valid or not, because of the way you've chosen to present it.

Questioner said...

Very, very few district employees speak at public hearings, despite the fact that many employees express concerns privately. In this time of furloughs and trimming staff, can we really expect them to speak up?

Jeremy said...

You cannot expect people to put themselves at undo risk to point out wrongdoing. The real question here is whether the concern being raised is that of questionable District Practice or a personal vendetta against a particular district employee.
The arguments presented, while compelling, are corrupted by the presentation.
For example, if there is a question about the way that PPS conducts its business, then one might say as much:
I think the way PPS does ___ is less than legitimate
Notice the difference between that and the following statement:
___ did ___ which is so terrible and adversely effects me in ___ way.
Which transcends debate or discussion and simply becomes libelous and argumentative.

Recently, it was announced that District Administrative staff would be reduced by as much as 50%. Quite frankly, this means that many employees (myself included), may soon find themselves without work ... and it occurs to me that with cuts so deep, it may not matter if you agree with the way things are being done.

Questioner said...

Prior to the last sentence ("Start looking backwards"), the original post seems pretty factual.

If memory serves, the Board discussion about this contract was very brief and focused on having fewer machines to service; if someone has a few minutes to pull up the exact language from the transcript that would help.

Anonymous said...

" Quite frankly, this means that many employees (myself included), may soon find themselves without work ... and it occurs to me that with cuts so deep, it may not matter if you agree with the way things are being done. "

It certainly seems likely, with the way things have happened with teachers and other staff, that people who have NOT spoken out are more likely to be retained than those who have.

It doesn't mean that people who have gone along with everything won't still be cut, just that more of the people who have raised questions will be gone.

At least those left behind will have lots to keep them busy.

Anonymous said...


Jeremy, Bring me solutions is lame and lazy management.

Part of the article. "It has become a common shibboleth these days that managers don't want subordinates to bring them problems - they want them to bring solutions. "Instead of promoting accountability, it actually encourages employees to turn a blind eye to problems they see but cannot figure out how to fix," she tells Harvard Management Update. "What you're saying, in effect, is, 'Of all the problems you find, I only want to know about the ones you can solve.' "

Anonymous said...

As a (non-PPS) manager, I have to agree. It's one thing to tell employees to be problem solvers, and another thing to tell them to solve all the problems no matter how challenging.

Anonymous said...

The underlying issues exposed by this entire post are two-fold:

1. Pps is moving to a non-bid copy machine contract that is nearly three times the existing dollar value of existing lease and maintenance equipment.

2. Pps plagiarized two job postings to the point that they left in the words "belkin" and "university."

Let's take one issue at a time. The cost of existing equipment is found in the budget book on a single page. The bid spec on existing copiers is found on the historical bids. The claim that a $2 million contract can save $1 million dollars does not hold water when the existing cost is so much less. Even if you pull out every single printer and eliminate the cost of cartridges and replacement units, you don't get to $2 million, let alone being able to save $1 million over and above.

Now take this a step further. School closings are coming real soon. Why would you want to lock a five year deal when you don't know how many buildings you will be left with? This proposal makes no sense from that regard.

Finally, let's say you did want such a massive five year deal? A $10 million contract is certainly large enough to bid locally instead of negotiating off of a contract designed for smaller volumes.

As two the second issue, frankly the CIO and whoever he worked with in HR have a lot of explaining to do on how two important jobs were simply cut and paste descriptions, including embarrassing evidence of plagiarism.

Marry both issues together and it really paints a poor picture of quality control.

Questioner said...

When the Board discussed the contract it seemed so clear cut- it really would be helpful to hunt down that transcript and see if something was missing in the way the deal was presented, or understood, or what.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have a copy of the contract in hand to compare to existing Pps bid and budget costs before reading the transcript.

Anonymous said...

During the previous admin the superintendent told parents that one goal was to professionalize HR. That may not have been the exact word/description but something close to it. He heard the criticism of the department and wanted to make it better.

Anonymous said...

Why would parents criticize HR?

Mark Rauterkus said...

PPS HR has been a huge problem over the years. Not sure about recent times, but the hiring of teachers so late in the cycle often means radical shortfalls. The magnet classes where the teachers are to speak a different language too is one of those instances where PPS can not hire in August.

Heard that science teachers are in big demand and PPs is a half dozen short for the past year.

Parents notice the gaps as our kids are in those classrooms with a parade of subs or long term subs that are not really teaching excellence.

Anonymous said...

HR is less professional, I see many law suits ahead. As a tax payer I don't want to pay for the inept people that have been hired.

How did this morph into an HR thread?

Anonymous said...

Hey Jeremy welcome to world of teachers in the last five years

Welcome to Broad/Gates Machine

Anonymous said...

No early retirement and no respect. PPS major failures/fumbles will backfire on them. They paid off most of the others that "left". This site is going to be very eye opening very soon.

PPS might view this site as a bother, and nothing to contend with. They are so very wrong. I suspect they have no idea how this will open up cans of worms they do not want public.

I hope one of their attornies is reading this and pleads offering early retirement packages to avoid lawsuits, common sense, respect for employees and to avoid a lot of information that has been held secret from being leaked. The politics are nasty.

Questioner said...

The new contract was discussed at this week's agenda meeting. Mr. Campbell said that currently there are leases for copiers at each school and the contract will give the district leverage and put more machines in each school, and that savings may be up to $1 million. A board member asked for more specific information on where savings would come from and Mr. Campbell mentioned that they looked at the data and were taking a different approach to contract negotiations. From this answer it still does not seem clear where savings will come from but board members found the response satisfactory. The sound on the television broadcast was cut off for a short time during this discussion (and at a couple of other points during the broadcast).

Anonymous said...

What a shame that the sound is not available, because he is really misrepresenting the PPS data.

It would be nice if PPS would have attached the proposed contract in the agenda review material.

We could have walked you right to the key page in the budget book and the online archive of PPS purchasing bids.

How much more expensive this contract is - I can only tell by the aggregate dollar amount, but the per unit cost might be outrageous too - would be painfully clear.

Anonymous said...

The plural for attorney is attorneys as opposed to "attornies"

Anonymous said...

"The plural for attorney is attorneys as opposed to "attornies"

June 18, 2011 2:26 PM"

I thought that looked wrong! You be be glad to know I am not a teacher. :)

Anonymous said...

Where is June's agenda review info? I can't find it.

Anonymous said...

You would be shocked if you knew how much money he is waisting.

Anonymous said...

Pardon me...wasting.

Questioner said...

What would prompt Dr. Lane to go along w/ a big waste of money, given that she is so pressed to find savings?

Anonymous said...

Honest answer? Nobody has any idea what they are doing anymore. Think hard... 3 openings at once in the tech department. The CIO is clueless and so is the board and Lane.

Anonymous said...

Time for the state to come in?

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that Dr. Lane apparantly does not care that the demise of technology in the PPS District will be part of her legacy. Mark Campbell gets his way, no matter the cost, without question. My child, who attends a PPS, would be immediately suspended for plagarism, as would any teacher in the District. How can this be acceptable for a person in his position? And yet his manipulation, maneuvering, lying and plagarism have gone unaddressed. Shame on you all.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, the 3 director positions have been removed from PPS and Monster.

Jeremy said...

Ok, I found it!

The Xerox contract, which does increase the money that PPS pays to Xerox, is an expansion of service to include things that are currently paid for out of other budgets. So the logic (at least, the proposed logic) is that PPS can pay Xerox $10 million dollars instead of paying them $5 million and paying any number of other companies $X million where X is currently stated at some amount more than $5 million. (any other vendors that supply printers, toner and paper)

Anonymous said...

Surely the three positions have been removed because Mark Campbell has found enough of his personal friends to fill the positions. I can only hope that the Board members are not coerced into accepting the information he provides without questioning him, as they have done recently. The fall-out from his bad decisions and manipulations will be detremental, and they will have no one but themselves to blame.

Anonymous said...

I randomly met someone from Atlanta that worked with him. He is known for very high turnover.