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Eye On Boise

JFAC co-chair says 16 state agencies now getting broadband services from IEN providers shouldn’t go dark

A list compiled by the Legislative Budget Office of state agencies receiving broadband and/or video conferencing services under the same Idaho Education Network contract that a court has repeatedly declared illegal shows there are 16 state agencies, plus five public health districts, and they’re paying monthly fees of $196,014, an annual total of $2.35 million. However, JFAC Co-Chair Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said the voiding of the IEN contract should have no impact on services to or by those agencies.

“Our judgment is that the Department of Administration is required to provide those services, and if the service is to go dark, their job is to go find the broadband services with another vendor,” Cameron said. “They have the funding. There’s no need for additional funding, unless there’s some added cost, and if there is, they have the opportunity to come address us.”

The $60 million contract, with Education Networks of America and Century Link, formerly Qwest Communications, was for providing a broadband and video conferencing network linking Idaho high schools. The state Department of Administration signed state agencies up for services on top of the IEN from the same vendors under the same contract and purchase orders; 4th District Judge Patrick Owen made it clear in his latest ruling yesterday that the whole contract was issued illegally and is void, regardless of whether it’s being used for services to state agencies or to schools.

Here are the state agencies now getting the services from ENA and Century Link: Building Safety; Corrections; Environmental Quality; Fish & Game; Health & Welfare; Industrial Commission; Juvenile Corrections; Labor; Liquor Dispensary; Parks & Recreation; PERSI; Idaho Supreme Court; Tax Commission; Veterans Services; Vocational Rehabilitation; and Water Resources. It's providing internet access at all state prisons and juvenile detention centers; it's used for the state parks reservation system; and it's used for video conferencing, voice-over-internet phone service, state liquor division credit card sales and inventory, and more. Health Districts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 are using the service for WIC and state benefits card issuance.

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.

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