Wisconsin company protests losing $15M state contract to Minnesota company

2013-02-15T15:47:00Z Wisconsin company protests losing $15M state contract to Minnesota companyThe Associated Press The Associated Press
February 15, 2013 3:47 pm  • 

The Wisconsin company that lost out on a contract to run a student information system in the state's schools protested the awarding of the bid to Minnesota's Infinite Campus on Friday, arguing that the process was unfair.

Skyward Inc., of Stevens Point, said in its protest filed with the state Department of Public Instruction that it should be awarded the contract or all the bids should be thrown out. Skyward said DPI, as well as the committee of five unidentified people who evaluated the bids, "failed to provide a fair, transparent, and open process."

Skyward, which employs about 270 people statewide, threatened to leave Wisconsin if it lost the contract that's $15 million initially but could grow to as high as $80 million over the next decade. The company has been waging a public relations battle for the past two weeks since the state announced the contract would be going to Infinite Campus of Blaine, Minn., running full-page ads in newspapers across the state urging people to contact Gov. Scott Walker.

There is no deadline for DPI, which developed the request for proposals and is in charge of overseeing implementation of the data system, to review the merits of the protest. If DPI rejects the protest, Skyward could appeal directly to the secretary of Walker's Department of Administration.

The protest will undergo a "fair and comprehensive review" as quickly as possible, said Patrick Gasper, spokesman for DPI.

Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for DOA, which oversaw the evaluation and awarding of the bid, said the main factors in awarding any contract — getting the best quality product at the best price and doing it in a transparent way without outside influence — occurred in this instance.

A report issued by Cari Anne Renlund, an attorney for former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle who Walker's administration hired to oversee the process, found no problems. Scores of the five evaluators who reviewed the bids showed that Infinite Campus outperformed Skyward 16,656 to 14,325.

Skyward said in its protest that in 73 instances Infinite Campus received scores that were higher than were allowed for those particular items. Skyward also said there were discrepancies both in the evaluation of technical requirements and the protection of key information related to pricing structure analysis.

Skyward further argues that over 10 years Skyward's bid was $14.5 million less than Infinite Campus and that the state did not consider implementation costs districts would face.

Skyward also argues that one reviewer was removed because the selection committee thought she was opposed to Infinite Campus.

According to Renlund's report, the reviewer was removed over concerns about the appearance of bias based on questions she asked during one of the vendor's presentations.

Renlund said in the report that she observed "no inappropriate bias, conscious or subconscious," but the woman was removed "out of an abundance of caution to ensure the integrity of the selection process."

Skyward said in its protest it was wrong to remove that person and that doing so skewed the final scores toward Infinite Campus.

Eric Creighton, the CEO of Infinite Campus, did not immediately return a message for comment.

The new data tracking system is designed to make it easier for DPI to track information and for districts to collect and share information about students, including academic performance and demographic information.

Moving to a single statewide system is expected to save local school districts millions of dollars as they no longer have to run their own systems to track everything from students' grades to their health records.

Three Democrats and one Republican in the state Legislature this week introduced a bill that would allow for more than one company to provide the service to schools, meaning Skyward could continue to operate in Wisconsin.

Having a single system, instead of multiple vendors, was a decision approved by the Legislature's Republican-controlled budget committee in 2011, despite concerns then that such a move could put Skyward at a disadvantage.

Walker's economic development agency in March offered Skyward $12 million in tax breaks contingent upon it winning the contract. That offer was rescinded a day before bids were due in June under concerns that it was inappropriate.

Infinite Campus currently provides software to about 10 percent of Wisconsin districts. The company says on its website that it provides statewide data-management software for five other states and has contracts with individual districts in 43 states.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. Cent Wis
    Report Abuse
    Cent Wis - February 17, 2013 8:31 am
    itsrandallonregent - At best, you failed to do your reseach. At worst, you are intentionally lying. Scott Glinski did not sign Walker's recall petition. Visit www.iverifytherecall.com and show me where Scott Glinski of Stevens Point signed the recall petition.



  2. Cent Wis
    Report Abuse
    Cent Wis - February 17, 2013 8:24 am
    It is your opinion that Infinite Campus is better. 50% of Wisconsin school districts would disagree with you. Regardless, why should that state be creating a monopoly? Why can't local school districts decide what is best for them? How can you justify over spending millions of taxpayer dollars?

    Please read the Skyward protest, then let me know if you think the process was proper.
  3. itsrandallonregent
    Report Abuse
    itsrandallonregent - February 15, 2013 8:29 pm
    Patrick Gasper of DPI signed the Recall Walker petition, so he helped to divide and conquer. Cari Anne Renlund, an attorney for former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle who Walker's administration hired to oversee the process, found no problems. The Walker administration tries to work with the other side, and look what happens. They try to close business in Wisconsin.

    Scott Glinski, President of Skyward, did not vote for Walker. He signed the Recall Petition. Scott Glinski is supporting closing business in Wisconsin.

    Walker's economic development agency in March offered Skyward $12 million in tax breaks contingent upon it winning the contract. That offer was rescinded a day before bids were due in June under concerns that it was inappropriate.

    einstein just follows along with whatever quotes the union approves. Because unions close business in Wisconsin.
  4. B223
    Report Abuse
    B223 - February 15, 2013 7:39 pm
    I'm all for keeping money in Wisconsin and supporting in-state business, but IMHO (and I've used both), Infinite Campus is just better. It's more user friendly and they keep on top of their updates.
  5. einstein
    Report Abuse
    einstein - February 15, 2013 6:41 pm
    Skyward was divided and conquered too and they probably voted for him! Wisconsin's closed for business

We provide a valuable forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on posted articles. But there are rules: Don't promote products or services, impersonate other site users, register multiple accounts, threaten or harass others, post vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language. Don't post content that defames or degrades anyone. Don't repost copyrighted material; link to it. In other words, stick to the topic and play nice. Report abuses by clicking the button. Users who break the rules will be banned from commenting. We no longer issue warnings.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Activate subscription button gif

What's hot

Vote! Today's poll

Loading…

With Scott Walker now an official presidential candidate, how far will he go?

View Results

Connect With Us

Vote!

Loading…

How will Scott Walker fare in the Iowa caucus?

View Results

Get daily email news alerts

E-Mail:

First Name:

Last Name: