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Ex-official has role in laptop deal

Garry Lough left state post March 2

BOISE – A former Idaho state official now with Education Networks of America would play a key role under the state’s $182 million, eight-year contract for laptop computers for high school students.

The contract, obtained Tuesday by The Spokesman-Review under the Idaho Public Records Law, includes information about key staffers for the companies that partnered in the successful bid, including Hewlett-Packard, Education Networks of America and Xtreme Consulting. Among them is a familiar name: Garry Lough, Idaho director of customer services for ENA.

Until March 2 of this year, Lough was a state employee, working for the Idaho Department of Education and the Department of Administration as communications director for the Idaho Education Network.

The IEN is a state project that provides a broadband connection to every Idaho high school. ENA and partner Qwest, now CenturyLink, won the multimillion-dollar statewide contract in 2009. Now, it has a continuing $8 million annual contract to operate the network for the state.

Lough is a former Idaho Republican Party executive director who went to work for the state in 2007 as a legislative liaison for the State Department of Education after a stint with the state controller’s office.

Lough is now in a key position, as ENA is a subcontractor with Hewlett-Packard in the laptop computer contract. ENA is in charge of setting up and operating wireless networks in every Idaho high school, using the broadband connection the firm already helped bring to the schools with the IEN.

“I think it’ll be a great asset to the state,” Lough said. “We have great relationships to a lot of the schools. We’ve demonstrated success.” He said the IEN project came in below budget and a year ahead of schedule. “And I think that same effort and deliverable is going to be executed (in the new project), if everything can proceed as we’d like it to.”

If Idaho voters reject a referendum measure, Proposition 3, in Tuesday’s election, the contract would be canceled.

As for his move from the state to ENA, Lough said, “It was just a good timing, and there were some synergies there.”

Lough, who holds a degree in international studies from Idaho State University, said, “Basically they had a national guy that was here a lot, and it was just becoming too costly.”