North Carolina terminates student record database project

The state of North Carolina has terminated for cause a contract with IBM Corp. for a massive student records database system that would support academic initiatives such as No Child Left Behind.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM asked the state's Department of Public Instruction to dissolve the contract for the North Carolina Window of Information on Student Education project, known as NCWISE.

The development came after the two parties reached an impasse in discussions over the troubled system. The project was conceived seven years ago to create an integrated information system that would consolidate and update several obsolete systems.

The contract was awarded to PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1999, according to state documents posted on the Internet. When IBM subsequently purchased the consultancy in 2003, the contract was transferred to it. The amended contract called for a three-phase rollout to be completed either by 2006 or 2007, and included post-deployment and ancillary transition services, an IBM spokesman said.

The six-year contract was valued at $78 million, he added. IBM to date has received $27 million for its work on the project, he said.

Both sides have pointed fingers at each other for delays and glitches in the system, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. And educators have been frustrated by long waits in issuing report cards and in completing needed analysis of student data.

The state terminated the project after one-third of the state's public schools were converted to the new system, but still plans to convert the remaining two-thirds of its public schools to the system, the newspaper reported.

IBM has agreed to provide transition assistance, but has declined to make additional changes to the software and architecture unless it is compensated for the work, the spokesman said.

William Welsh is the deputy editor of Government Computer News' sister publication, Washington Technology.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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