Concept Schools regulates allegations of non-competitive tendering practices.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Concept Schools, a charter school management company in Des Plaines, Illinois, has agreed to pay a $ 4.5 million civil settlement to resolve the allegations for violating false claims law by engaging in non-competitive bidding practices related to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) e-rate program. The program was launched by Congress in the Telecommunications Act 1996 and subsidizes schools to make Internet access and internal networking more affordable.
The United States Attorney’s Office alleged that Concept Schools set the tender for e-rate contracts between 2009 and 2012 in favor of select technology providers, “so the network of charter schools in several states, including Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana, selected the selected providers without a.” has a meaningful, fair and open tendering process, ”says the DOJ press release. The vendors selected by Concept Schools were also found to be providing equipment at higher prices than those approved by the FCC for similar equipment. In addition, the Concept Schools failed to “maintain adequate control of the FCC-reimbursed devices, some of which were found missing,” prosecutors said.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
As part of the government program, eligible schools and libraries can receive “discounts on telecommunications, telecommunications services and Internet access, as well as internal connections, managed internal broadband services and basic maintenance of internal connections,” the FCC states on its website. “The discounts are between 20 and 90 percent and are based on the poverty line in schools. Rural schools and libraries may also receive a higher discount. The recipients have to pay part of the service costs. “
Federal law lists seven different behaviors that would constitute violations of the law. According to the Justice Department, “after listing the seven behaviors that make the FCA liable, the law states that anyone held liable must pay a civil penalty of between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 for any false claim (these amounts are adjusted from time to time.” The current amounts are $ 5,500 to $ 11,000, tripling government damages. If a person who has violated the FCA reports the violation to the government under certain conditions, the FCA provides that the individual be for at least the double damage is liable. “
“Today’s settlement shows our continued vigilance to ensure that those who do business with the government are not behaving anticompetitively,” said Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Assistant Attorney General, of the Department of Justice’s civil division. “Government contractors and schools that seek to profit at the taxpayer’s expense will have dire consequences.”
“E-rate contractors and schools receiving e-rate funding need to understand and know that actions that undermine the contracting process, such as the bidding conspiracy, will not be tolerated and will be aggressively investigated” said David L. Hunt, inspector general for the FCC.
Concept Schools has also agreed to enter into an enterprise compliance plan with the FCC. Participation in the program will in future be monitored by the agency.
The False Claims Act: A Primer
E-Rate: Universal utility for schools and libraries
London-based Charter School Management Company pays $ 4.5 million to settle claims related to e-rate contracts