Agency nixes education project, loses $840K in federal money

The Mississippi Department of Education has scrapped a $5.5 million software project after spending $840,000 in federal money that it can't get back, citing "intrinsic technical barriers."

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 12:50 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Department of Education has scrapped a $5.5 million software project after spending $840,000 in federal money that it can't get back, citing "intrinsic technical barriers."

The Clarion Ledger reports the agency won't be able to recoup the money spent on a contract with the Massachusetts-based Public Consulting Group for the Mississippi IEP Data Accountability System, or MIDAS. Education officials told the consultants last week to stop working on the effort to create a statewide online database for special education students' individualized education programs. Those plans, required by federal law, are supposed to outline these students' services and academic goals.

The project was approved by the department's previous chief information officer, John Porter, who resigned in November 2017. He cited personal reasons, but had faced repeated questions over computer contracts.

Chief Academic Officer Nathan Oakley said in an email obtained by the newspaper that obstacles on underlying computer systems would have prevented the new system from functioning.

"MDE has determined that intrinsic technical barriers will prevent the system from fully functioning as envisioned without additional, significant investments outside of the scope of the contract," he wrote in the email to district special education directors.

The project was set to launch Oct. 1. Officials had been planning the new system for two years, raising questions about why it took so long for the agency to discover it wasn't feasible. The state made six payments to the company between February and July.

Oakley said the user interface appeared to work as expected, but that back-end technology didn't work.

It's unclear whether the agency became aware of the problems prior to a review of information technology contracts by Chief Information Officer John Kraman, who joined the agency in the spring. Kraman reported the state would have to have a major investment of time and labor to support the project long-term.

The state had said the system would support districts that were paying for their own computer systems, freeing up local money for instruction, and provide a way to track special education, attendance and discipline records for students transferring between districts. MIDAS also would have made it easier to prepare annual federal reports.

Communication from Oakley indicates some districts had already started to transition away from their online IEP systems in anticipation of the MIDAS launch.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515208

Reported Deaths: 10290
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34981557
DeSoto33342432
Hinds32718643
Jackson24896391
Rankin22553404
Lee16439245
Madison14949283
Jones14155248
Forrest13829260
Lauderdale12305324
Lowndes11348193
Lamar10687140
Pearl River9739244
Lafayette8867143
Hancock7847132
Washington7555169
Oktibbeha7228138
Monroe7055179
Pontotoc7026110
Warren6883178
Panola6783135
Neshoba6740210
Marshall6705142
Bolivar6468151
Union642898
Pike5941157
Alcorn5912107
Lincoln5539136
George510680
Prentiss507785
Tippah495483
Itawamba4877107
Scott478799
Adams4775125
Tate4774117
Leflore4747144
Copiah458095
Yazoo457892
Simpson4565117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4318106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4243109
Leake414090
Newton396082
Tishomingo386194
Grenada3786109
Stone365966
Jasper341266
Attala339590
Winston317992
Chickasaw317667
Clay312778
Clarke301695
Calhoun286349
Holmes272589
Smith269952
Yalobusha244647
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220241
Perry214456
Amite210257
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175241
Jefferson Davis174043
Tunica163539
Benton153239
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134639
Humphreys132239
Franklin126430
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847064

Reported Deaths: 16157
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163702006
Mobile743001381
Madison53394737
Shelby38395371
Baldwin38140589
Tuscaloosa36096642
Montgomery34535782
Lee25639264
Calhoun22620519
Morgan22503408
Etowah20043520
Marshall18812317
Houston17754425
St. Clair16928358
Limestone16178220
Cullman16113304
Elmore15927295
Lauderdale15042307
Talladega14234301
DeKalb13033270
Walker12119380
Blount10756193
Autauga10531157
Jackson10191195
Coffee9431192
Colbert9356210
Dale9035192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell709665
Chilton7077170
Escambia6961144
Covington6956195
Franklin6355108
Chambers5791142
Marion5428130
Dallas5299210
Pike5124109
Clarke485586
Lawrence4841130
Winston4784110
Geneva4649136
Bibb435294
Barbour370080
Butler3445101
Marengo342793
Monroe338066
Randolph337367
Pickens334689
Fayette331385
Henry320866
Cherokee319563
Hale318589
Crenshaw261577
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253355
Clay251669
Macon245465
Conecuh193262
Coosa185647
Lowndes178268
Wilcox178138
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130245
Choctaw93328
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 58°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 59°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: °
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 54°
Rain coming in this weekend as a cold front moves through the area bringing cooler temperatures on into the start of next week.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather