Hairston's no-bid contract isn't the half of it

February 10, 2011

Your article "Hairston aide got no-bid contract" (Feb. 9) on the surface is another example of the arrogance of our government employees and the lack of accountability at all levels. Baltimore County Superintendent Joe A. Hairston says he's smarter than us and then makes a decision to give millions to a friend in Georgia with a no-bid deal. At the very least we should ask him to make friends with people who produce software in Maryland.

This is just the surface, and it's bad enough. However, if you think about the way this decision was made, there are more disturbing questions.

The first might be: If this software is so critical and unique, why haven't the other 23 school districts in Maryland acquired it? A follow-up question might be: Do the 24 school districts all make independent decisions on purchases like this? Would they get a better deal if they combined their buying power and came up with one solution that worked? And then another: Do all the districts operate their own data centers? Wouldn't it be more cost effective to consolidate all information technology in a centralized office (outsourced, hopefully)?

These issues are not unique to the school districts; the wasteful spending is throughout — don't get me started on pensions and benefits. People in business have had to adjust their spending to a harsh economic climate requiring them to do things differently — not just less of the same thing. Government just doesn't get it.

Larry Vogel, Baltimore

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