July 7, 2008

Another Cognos scandal in Massachusetts

I already posted about the Boston Globe’s reporting on a deal to supply the whole Massachusetts state government with Cognos software that since has been investigated and rescinded.

The Globe now reports that a multimillion dollar deal the prior year with the Massachusetts Department of Education was equally dubious. Lowlights include:

A former state Department of Education administrator has told investigators that she was offered a private sector job by a sales representative for Cognos ULC, around the same time that the software company was attempting to win a lucrative education contract in 2006, according to officials briefed on the matter.

While pushing to land the smaller education department contract, Lally specifically emphasized that he could have money added to the state budget to fund the deal because of his friendship with DiMasi, according to Chew and a former Cognos employee. The contract provided for a data warehouse system, which would allow the department to collect, track, and share data about students, teachers, and finances across the state.

In April 2006, Lally’s prediction proved true. House lawmakers added a new $5.2 million line item for the contract through a House budget amendment. DiMasi told fellow legislators at the time that the amendment was a priority, according to an official with direct knowledge of the budget negotiations.

“The two finalists – we spent a long period of time putting them through their paces,” Bickerton said.

That period of time: two days, according to a timeline provided by the Department of Education.


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