May 25, 2023
Education Reform Now Advocacy
The Committee on Public Works & Operations Public Hearing on:
B25-0069 – “District of Columbia Public Schools Procurement Authority Amendment Act of 2023″
Good morning, Chairperson Nadeau, members and staff of the Committee on Public Works & Operations. My name is Jessica Giles. I am a ward seven resident and the Executive Director of Education Reform Now Advocacy (ERNA). ERNA is fighting for a just and equitable public education system for all students in Washington, D.C. Although we understand the intent of this legislation, we oppose B25-0069, the “District of Columbia Public Schools Procurement Authority Amendment Act of 2023.″
Repealing D.C. Public Schools’ (DCPS) independent procurement authority would create a bureaucratic nightmare and lead to extensive delays in providing critical goods, services, and resources to our students. DCPS is the largest local education agency (LEA) in the District, and moving its massive procurement needs under an already bloated agency would slow procurement down. In the past, when DCPS was forced to outsource approval of contracts, school openings were delayed, and urgent repairs went unfixed.¹ We don’t want to go back to the days when teachers didn’t have books, paper, or pencils in their classrooms. Those were tough days and led to the critical reforms we have now that have yielded progress in students’ academic achievement.
Clearly, DCPS has not complied with the law that requires D.C. agencies to submit contracts valued at $1 million or more to the D.C. Council for approval before being awarded to vendors. DCPS must take immediate corrective action to put accountability measures in place. And, the D.C. Council should continue to provide oversight of this process.
Every LEA has its own independent procurement authority, and DCPS should not be treated differently. If anything, DCPS principals should be given more autonomy to provide their students with the resources and services they need, not be mired down in additional red tape.
For these reasons, we strongly oppose B25-0069, the “District of Columbia Public Schools Procurement Authority Amendment Act of 2023″ and ask that the Committee reconsider this legislation. Thank you for letting me submit written testimony.
¹Children in Crisis: The Failure of Public Education in the District. District of Columbia Financial
Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority. November 12, 1996.