Fine Print: Wireless Generation’s Race to the Top Contracts

There’s been no end of speculation, but what do the Wireless Generation documents really say?

The contracts:

  • Wireless Generation’s $179,750 consultant contract for developing and assisting in New Jersey’s Race to the Top application, Round 2
  • The $9,500 contract to assist in the oral presentation to federal reviewers
  • The waiver request to allow the state to hire Wireless Generation without competitive bid
  • Why they matter: The Brooklyn-based company’s work on the Race to the Top application has become a central question since an error was found in the bid, costing the state nearly five points in the competition, enough for New Jersey to have won up to $400 million in federal funds.

    How the omission of basic financial information occurred led to a furor and to Gov. Chris Christie ultimately firing Bret Schundler, his state education commissioner. Schundler admits to making the error in his final edits of the application, but said consultants from Wireless should have caught it. The state attorney general’s office said it is now reviewing the contract. Wireless also held the contract for the Round 1 application, for a total of $335,000.

    Key line: In the main application, halfway down page 2:

    “Section D: Responsibilities of Contractor:
    1) The Contractor is responsible for the quality, technical accuracy and timely completion and delivery of all deliverables and other services to be furnished by the Contractor under the Contract.”

    That may be the key question: Was Wireless remiss in its job of insuring the “technical accuracy” of the application?

    Subsection 2 says that the contractor “shall, without additional compensation, correct or revise any errors, omissions or other deficiencies in its services and deliverables.” It’s obviously too late now, and a section elsewhere in the contract that speaks to a performance security and bond provided by the contractor appears only to apply to contracts of more than $250,000.

    Wireless Generation’s response: The company released several statements initially, defending its work on the application and laying out its qualifications for the job. But it has referred further questions to the state Department of Education or not commented at all. At a legislative hearing last week investigating the error and the firing of Schundler, the company was represented by lawyer Harvey C. Johnson, of Duane Morris LLP in Cherry Hill and former counsel to Camden’s school board. He did not testify.

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