Mexico: “Enciclomedia Audit Awards No Plaudits”

The digital chalkboard
Microsoft “digital divide” project: The technology was sound, it just lacked technical support, training — including what to do when you encounter a freeze or “blue screen of death” — logistics, planning, transparency, accountability, performance measures, and what exactly happened to the 75% of the budget for the program that was not spent on the program, anyway? Oh, and teachers complained the content library was not kept current.

“… such frustrations are the latest example of how technology is generally adopted by philanthropies as a quick fix, only to leave teachers confused over how to integrate these new technologies into the school curriculum.” — See E-ducational Savior Machines on the Hot Seat

According to the [SEP’s own] “white book” (program audit) on the Enciclomedia program, “no significant differences were found in comprehension, application and critical evaluation of content” among children who used Enciclomedia and those who did not. Sixth grade students who did not use the equipment, in fact, scored 1.48 points in the reading comprehension area, compared with 1.23 among those who did, while in the application of content learned, the students not taught with Enciclomedia scored 2.15, compared with 2.11 scored by the other group. Fifth graders without Enciclomedia scored better — 2.0 points against 1.83 — than their schoolmates who used the equipment. — See “The Technical and Educational Failure of Enciclomedia”

… Results of an audit by the federal audit agency, the ASF, state as follows: “The lack of any indication of efficacy, efficiency, or progress toward the general and specific goals of the program, or any practical guidelines for its operation; substandard performance from operations in Chihuahua and Sonora, and lack of procedures for the recover of IT equipment that was misappropriated.” —See Mexico: “Harvard Declares Redmond’s Enciclomedia Useless”

I would like to actually read the Harvard report cited before endorsing that interpretation, but an SEP “white book” (program audit) and the ASF did similar lack of pedagogical results.

Notilegis (Mexican congressional news agency) reports on the report that came out of the education committee on the Enciclomedia digital chalkboard program for Mexican schools.

I will also clip and translate the summary of findings of the ASF — the Mexcian GAO, let us say — on the program.

Al presentar el primer informe de resultados y recomendaciones de la subcomisión para investigar y dar seguimiento al Programa Enciclomedia, el presidente de la Comisión de Educación, Tonatiuh Bravo Padilla (PRD) hizo un exhorto a la PGR, ASF y SFP para investigar las presuntas irregularidades detectadas y calculó un daño al erario por 11 millones de dólares.

Upon presenting the preliminary report and recommendations of the subcommittee tasked to investigating and overseeing the Enciclomedia program, the president of the committee, Tonatiuh Bravo Padilla (PRD) urged the federal attorney, the [Mexican GAO] and the secretary of education (SEP) to investigate the alleged irregularities, and calculated a loss to the public coffers of $11 million.

That is not the total potential waste fraud and abuse, mind you: That is merely the potential waste, fraud and abuse from buying tutorial software that was allegedly well above the market price.

The SEP was quoted by the Guardian in June of this year as saying it was evaluating the program “with enthusiasm.”

Which is bit like saying I am going to check your tire pressure with enthusiasm — enthusiastic confidence that those new radials are so well made that they could not possibly have a defect. I am just sure I am not going to find any problems with them.

If I do find loss of pressure where I did not expect it, it must be because Satan has put the kibosh on the gauge. I am going to believe my faith rather than the laws of thermodynamics.

Faith-based program auditing, in other words.

Apparently, that “enthusiasm” included suppressing internal reports that showed the program was not meeting its pedagogical goals.

That is, students from classrooms with the equipment were not scoring any higher on standardized tests than students from classroom without it.

Con base en el análisis de presuntas irregularidades, la comisión concluyó exhortar a las secretarías de Educación Pública, Función pública, Auditoría Superior de la Federación y Procuraduría General de la República, a intervenir y aclarar si existió una red de complicidades entre la Oficina de la Presidencia para la Innovación Gubernamental y los principales proveedores de equipos en el Programa Enciclomedia.

Based on its analysis of the alleged irregularities, the committee decided to urge the education and civil service secretaries, the federal auditor and the federal attorney to intervene and clarify whether a network of complicity did not exist between the presidency’s Governmental Innovation office and the principal equipment suppliers for the program.

See also Mexico: Shedding Light on Contracting Procedures for “Digital Chalkboard” Program.

You can — or could, last time I checked — read the government’s contract with the vendor on the project — Microsoft, represented by Maggie Wilderotterhere.

El diputado Bravo Padilla dijo en conferencia de prensa que en informe “se señala que fueron comprados tutoriales de una marca por una cantidad, habiendo tutoriales mucho más baratos en el mercado, no se explica por qué se compraron esos, y en el caso de corroborarse que ahí hubo una compra indebida, entonces el daño al erario ahí es por 11 millones de dólares, pero es solamente ese apartado”.

Deputy Bravo said at a press conference that the report “notes that brand-name tutorials were bought for a certain price when there were much cheaper ones on the market, there is no explanation for why these were purchased, and in the event this is proven to have been an undue purchase, the damage to the public treasury would be $11 million in this area alone.”

The damage could run much higher, depending on what happened to the machines the ASF says have not been accounted for and whose whereabouts are unknown. Some 11,000 machines at something like $5,000 a pop.

La Comisión de Educación consideró que el impacto académico de Enciclomedia se ha visto afectado por irregularidades en el manejo administrativo para su implementación, “y en la medida que no exista plena transparencia en la información sobre los recursos asignados y ejercidos, los procesos de licitación o adjudicación directa, continuará generándose un deterioro de la confianza respecto al programa”.

The Education Committee said it though the academic performance of the program has been affected by irregularities in the management of its implementation, “and to the extent that full transparency is lacking about the funds budgeted and used, and whether competitive bidding or direct awards were used, confidence in the program will continue to deteriorate.

Además, considera que deben transparentarse plenamente los procesos de diseño, licitación, implementación y funcionamiento de Enciclomedia, llevados a cabo por la administración federal en el sexenio pasado.

It also considered that there must be full transparency about the design, procurement, implementation, and operation of the Enciclomedia, which was implemented by the last presidential administration.

“El programa es un bien público, financiado con recursos del erario, por tanto, de corroborarse irregularidades, se deberán fincar las responsabilidades administrativas, civiles y penales correspondientes”.

“The program is a public asset, financed with public money, and as such, if irregularities are detected and confirmed, the appropriate administrative, civil and criminal penalties should be applied.”

The ASF summarized its findings earlier this year, as part of a thorough audit of the federal accounts for 2005 — 2006 comes next — on the program as follows:

Se revisó que el presupuesto asignado a la Dirección General de Tecnología de la Información (DGTI), para la contratación de un servicio multianual, a efecto de poner a disposición de la Secretaría de Educación Pública los equipos, la paquetería de Software y demás infraestructura necesaria para la operación del Proyecto Enciclomedia, en un total de 125,562 “Aulas” en toda la República Mexicana, se ejerciera y registrara conforme a las disposiciones legales y normativas aplicables, determinándose los resultados siguientes:

The budget allocated to the General Directorate of Information Technology (DGTI) for the contracting of multiyear services designed to provide the education secretary with equipment, software and other infrastructure needed to operate the Enciclomedia program in a total of 125,562 classrooms throughout Mexico, was reviewed to see whether it was expended and accounted for according to the applicable laws and regulations, with the following results.

La DGTI ejerció 478,337,.9 miles de pesos (23%) del total del presupuesto original autorizado por 2,105,000.0 miles de pesos para la actividad prioritaria R055 “Implementar el Programa Enciclomedia”. La diferencia por 1,626,662.1 miles de pesos (77%), se utilizó para dar atención a las presiones de gasto que tenía el sector educativo.

The DGTI used 23% of the original budget authorized for priority activity R055 “Implement Enciclomedia.” The difference, 77% of the budget, was used to address urgent expenses of the educational sector.

– Durante el ejercicio de 2005 se programaron instalar 18,464 “Aulas” del Modelo Multianual de Servicios (MMS); sin embargo, la DGTI justificó la instalación de 7,287 “Aulas MMS”, quedando pendiente de aclarar las restantes 11,177 “Aulas MMS”.

During Fiscal 2005, 18,464 classrooms were scheduled to receive the [equipment]; but the DGTI reported the installation of only 7,287, and has not clarified the situation of the remaining 11,177 classrooms.

– No se presentaron 127 actas circunstanciadas de inicio de operación de “Aulas MMS” de los estados de Zacatecas y el Estado de México, por 24,181.4 miles de pesos. Se formularon 9 observaciones que generaron 10 acciones, correspondientes a 6 recomendaciones, 1 solicitud de aclaración-recuperación y 3 promociones de responsabilidades administrativas sancionatorias.

Not presented were 127 reports documenting the start-up of this program in Zacatecas and Mexico State, with a budget of 24.2 million pesos. Nine observations were formulated that generated 10 actions, corresponding to 6 recommendations, one petition for clarification and recover, and three recommendations of administrative sanctions.

I need to dive down into the detail on that.

Se revisó que las erogaciones reportadas en la Cuenta Pública 2005 en la partida 4108, correspondieran a transacciones efectivamente realizadas por la entidad fiscalizada, que se encontraran justificadas y comprobadas, y se verificó que el respaldo documental y el registro presupuestal y contable fueran correctos, determinándose los resultados siguientes:

[tktktktk]

– No se reintegraron a la TESOFE los recursos remanentes de ejercicios anteriores y sus respectivos rendimientos, concentrados en el Fideicomiso Nacional del Programa de Escuelas de Calidad (PEC), que al 30 de junio de 2006 ascendían a 1,431,627.2 miles de pesos.

The federal treasury was not reimbursed for funds left over from previous fiscal years from the National School Quality Program, in the amount, as of June 30, 2006, of 1.43 billion pesos.

Or, say, very roughly, $140 million.

– De una muestra de nueve entidades federativas que recibieron recursos del PEC 2005, se constató que, cuatro de ellas, no reintegraron al Fideicomiso Nacional recursos de las aportaciones no ejercidas por las escuelas beneficiadas, ni sus productos financieros.

A sample of the the nine states that got funds from the PEC 2005 shows that four of them did not return funds not used by participating schools …

El Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala no comprobó recursos por 4,250.0 miles de pesos, existiendo también facturación de gastos con fecha posterior a la terminación del ciclo escolar, por 4,970.2 miles de pesos.

[tktktktk]

Se emitieron 10 observaciones que generaron 17 acciones, correspondientes a 13 recomendaciones, 1 promoción de intervención de la instancia de control, 2 solicitudes de aclaración-recuperación y 1 pliego de observaciones.

[tktktktk]

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