Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, asked state Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna, “I heard you say that we don’t keep track of the federal money?” Lawmakers are now being asked to approve a $14.45 million supplemental appropriation for the IEN to replace federal e-rate funds that haven’t come in.
Luna explained that for the Idaho Education Network, the state pays 25 percent of the costs, and federal e-rate funds pay 75 percent. “We typically pay that 25 percent out every month,” directly to the vendors, she said. The feds pay their 75 percent, also directly to the vendor. Luna said when the vendors “were getting concerned” because they hadn’t been paid for some time, the state moved up its 25 percent payments for April, May and June and paid the vendors early, “essentially to put a little bit more money into the vendors’ pockets for the 75 percent that they weren’t getting paid. That amounted to $550,000, and it was paid out of general funds that are used for the IEN,” she said.
Schmidt said, “The question is the contract oversight, in terms of who’s paying attention to who’s getting paid when. That seems to me like what’s being missed.”
Luna said, “We pay our 25 percent directly to the vendor, and … (the federal agency) pays their 75 percent directly to the vendor. It never comes through our hands. … So I think that’s where the communication issue could be better, if we did a monthly reconciliation to make sure that they’re getting their payments.”