Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Luna on $14M IEN problem: ‘They’re business people and they’re not going to do it for free’

State Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna told JFAC this morning she was informed July 31 by Education Networks of America, the contractor for the Idaho Education Network that provides broadband connections to every Idaho high school, “that they had not been paid e-rate funds in about 3 months. At the time, it did not raise a lot of concerns,” she said. “The e-rate funds is typically a slow pay. We had heard nothing to tell us the funds had been withheld.”

A couple of months later, the federal agency that administers the e-rate funds sent an email asking if Idaho’s contract with ENA was valid, in light of the lawsuit from Syringa Networks challenging the contract award. “We answered the question yes, based on the district court ruling and the Supreme Court ruling, these contracts are valid, and sent that back to them,” Luna said. “That review was due to be completed Dec. 23. We do these all the time, we always get the OK, everybody moves on. When Dec. 23 rolled around and we hadn’t heard anything, we thought, well, it’s Dec. 23rd.  We weren’t that concerned about it until Jan. 12, when we learned again through an informal contact with this group that our funds were being withheld pending resolution of the case.”

She said, “It’s our belief, based on the questions that they’re asking us, that they’re reviewing the contracting and purchasing process  to make sure that it meets their standards.” Luna said, “Even without full payment, the vendors have been providing services to the IEN since March. We are obligated for the services they have provided since that time. … They’re business people and they’re not going to do it for free. Short of the bridge funding that we’re asking for to keep the network going, it will be shut down.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

Follow Betsy online: