555 Franklin St San Francisco Ca – Teachers hold signs outside the San Francisco Unified School District headquarters on St. Franklin 555. minutes before the October 11 regular meeting of the Board of Education. Photo by David Mamaril Horowitz.
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For nearly 10 months, the San Francisco Unified School District was unable to assess the extent of the salary fiasco. Now finally
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The numbers are: 3,337 employees opened tickets for help with recent actions related to the wage crisis that left them unpaid or underpaid, according to Alvarez & Marsal, the firm recently hired to evaluate and adjust EmPowerSF’s payroll system.
Alvarez & Marsal Managing Director Erin Covington gave a grim two-week assessment of the crisis at the Oct. 11 Board of Education meeting: Those 3,337 employees filed 6,492 tickets that had “activity” in the past 90 days — and there are 2,047 open tickets with no recent activity. .
Alvarez & Marsal Managing Director Erin Covington presents a two-week report to the Board of Education at its regular meeting on October 11, 2022. Photo by David Mamaril Horowitz.
The evaluation concluded that there was an “increasing number of pay-related incidents” and “due to a lack of capacity, there is no formal closed-loop process to identify root causes, develop long-term solutions and fixes, and identify employees who may be affected.” “.
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It seems unlikely, to say the least, that the firm’s contract with the county, which pays $175,000 a week, will end anytime soon.
The district, notably, chose to award Alvarez and Marsal the up to $2.8 million contract on Sept. 14 without putting the case out to bid. The decision to bypass public bidding, eliminating the process intended to ensure that the most qualified and affordable contractor does the work, drew attention from many community members with extensive expertise in school district public contracts.
And, while the new Supervisor Dr. Matt Wayne had only positive things to say about Alvarez & Marsal before the Board of Education approved his contract, an examination of the company’s history revealed a more controversial past. Perhaps its most significant controversy occurred in Guam in 2016, when the firm played legal battles with the US territory’s Department of Education and was accused of stalling as a deadline approached in order to undermine the public tender process and extract more money. from the public. client.
At a Sept. 14 special meeting to approve SFUSD’s contract with Alvarez and Marsal, Wayne cited time pressures and a lack of staff and professional expertise as reasons for abandoning the bidding process. time
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Of the essence; educators and staff were already trying to survive in the Bay Area on a public education salary
But community members also noted negligence in a financially troubled school district paying millions to a private contractor to fix a problem created by another private contractor, Infosys, which
The agreement runs until January 31, 2023, unless either party gives 30 days’ notice to withdraw. There is also a deadline: if the parties cannot agree on the deliverables for the second phase of the contract, or they can terminate it with 48 hours’ notice before the end of the four-week triage phase.
A two-week preliminary analysis of the current school district pay debate was presented to the Board of Education on October 11, 2022, by management consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal. Photo by David Mamaril Horowitz.
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“It’s unusual for an offer of this size, for millions of dollars, not to go through some kind of public bidding process,” said former San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Feuer, who served as vice chair and chair of the Board of Education between 2009 and 2009. and 2017. “If there were issues limiting the [technology payday] company’s liability for accidents in the original contract, that’s all the more reason to be much more careful about contracting with another company to solve that problem, because you’re going to lose the trust of the employees.” and SFUSD families if this doesn’t go right.”
Rafael Picazo, president of the SFUSD staff union chapter SEIU 1021, which oversees the district’s lowest-paid employees, agreed that bypassing the public bidding process is unwise.
“I think they should have put out a tender to find the best qualified consulting firm to come in and fix the problem – not just anyone who says, ‘I can fix it’ and then has no registration, evidence or references for the individual.” “said Picasso, who has 30 years of experience in auditing public contracts.
Less and Picasso are not alone. The Local Mission spoke to other former Board of Education members and a former teachers union president – and most said skipping the tender process to save time was not a legitimate excuse.
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Less said the county’s financial crisis and the need to restore public confidence after the pay debate made it especially important to hold a public bid.
Eric Marr, who served on the Board of Education from 2000 to 2008, said he “absolutely” believes there should have been an offer.
“There should have been some process to vet the firm, especially for large contracts of that size, when you’re under so much scrutiny,” he said. “There are times when there is a serious emergency where a no-bid contract is valid, but this doesn’t seem like one of those emergencies to me.” “But I’m not in the middle of what the board and the superintendent are doing.”
Jane Kim, who served on the Board of Education from 2007 to 2010, declined to comment, adding that she does not have as much information on the matter as current board members. However, she said bypassing the public offering should be done sparingly.
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“These are taxpayer dollars and you want to make sure you’re getting the lowest cost for the highest quality service.” So, in general, an open tender contract is more likely to deliver that result,” she said.
Former Commissioner Norman Yee, who served on the Board from 2005 to 2012, was the interviewee who said he could see time pressure as a good reason to skip the bid.
“You can question it, but for me it’s not a black and white situation; it’s more gray, where there’s a lot of justification, it seems, for what they did.”
Dennis Kelly, president of the SFUSD teachers union from 2003 to 2015, called the situation an absolute emergency, but he still thinks it’s inappropriate to enter the firm without a public offering.
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“It should be an expedited process,” he said. “People can’t be left hanging there. People can’t get on when they don’t trust the system that hired them. But it didn’t have to be a long process. It should have been a very quick process.”
If there were issues that would limit the company’s liability for mistakes in the original contract, that’s all the more reason to be very careful about contracting with another company to fix that problem, because it will lose the trust of SFUSD employees and families. if it doesn’t go right.Sandra Lee Fever, former vice president and chair of the board of education
Superintendent Wayne, who took over for Vincent Matthews in July, said the district spent August looking for a fixer. Instead, how long an IPO would take depends largely on how much time is allotted for the advertising period, a public agency contracting specialist told Mission Local, and he concluded that an accelerated IPO could be done within two up to six weeks.
This assessment of the expedited process was consistent with those of other interviewees: Two weeks was rated as less. Kim estimated six to eight weeks. Kelly, who said he has “a good 20 years reviewing public contracts,” said he could see it being “easily done in two weeks to a month.”
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Because most contractors and public agencies use templates, it can take up to a day or two to reveal the ad, the contract specialist said. Two weeks, he said, was the “generally accepted time” to wait for bidders to submit proposals, and reviewing bids and negotiating a contract could take one to two weeks.
Kevin Boggess, vice chairman of the Board of Education, said that when he voted to approve the contract with Alvarez and Marsal, he wanted to give the superintendent the benefit of the doubt on how to solve the problem as he saw fit without micromanaging him.
The Board of Education receives a two-week report from Alvarez & Marsal Executive Director Erin Covington at its regular meeting on October 11, 2022. Photo by David Mamaril Horowitz.
“Normally I would say I’m against circumventing the bidding process. “I think it’s better for all parties involved if there is a bidding process that allows for a combination of product pricing and service,” he said. “But in this case, I’m fine with less.”