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Management fiasco. The Hazleton Area School District in Pennsylvania paid for at least $433,841 in computers and services that the district did not receive, said the state's auditor general, Robert Casey. The culprit? Mismanagement and a lack of contract oversight, according to Casey's audit.

The school district granted five no-bid contracts to Networked Technologies Inc. of Dickson City, Pa., in late 2000 and early 2001, for a total of $1.45 million, but the company filed for bankruptcy in June 2001.

When the district's business manager made final payments to the contractor of $725,554, 'at least $433,841 of that total was for equipment and services, including training, that the school district never received,' auditors said.

Auditors found that the district failed to track the training teachers received, so the state could not determine how much, if any, training that Networked Technologies conducted. 'In addition, the district paid for another $164,036 in equipment and $194,805 in services that were never received,' the audit team found.

Emergency communications. The Federal Communications Commission last month sought comments on whether it should require more communications companies to offer access to 911 emergency calling systems.

Wired 911 service is now available to 98 percent of the population, the commission noted. Some wireless services already are required to offer 911 access.

FCC is considering 911 requirements for eight areas:
  • Mobile satellite service

  • Vehicle services such as OnStar, which are expected to be in more than 40 percent of vehicles sold by 2008

  • Multiline phone systems

  • Resold cellular and personal communica-tions service

  • Prepaid wireless calling service

  • Disposable mobile phones

  • Automated maritime systems

  • Services and devices such as personal digital assistants with voice capabilities and IP telephony.

  • The proposal is posted at www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Digest/2002/dd021220.html.
  • Wireless challenge. New York faces a challenge next month when officials begin evaluating bids for a statewide wireless network.

'The difficulty in judging such an award is that we can't predict what technologies will be included in the responses,' James Dillon, the state's CIO, said. 'So we will have to judge and compare in a way that gets as close to apples-to-apples as we can.'

Bids on the eight-year, $400 million project were due Jan. 7. The project initially was envisioned as providing wireless infrastructure for the New York State Police, but its scope has been broadened to include criminal justice, public safety and transportation, Dillon said.

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