Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is Our Contractors Learning?

You may remember our pals at the North Carolina firm RTI International, whom we last saw calmly washing their bloodstained hands of any responsibilty for gunning down our friend's aunt and a traveling companion last month in Baghdad. You and I picked up the tab for that little adventure, of course. But since the Federal treasury is like an enormous, multi-teated sow, the piglets at RTII have had many opportunities to fatten themselves off it. For instance, when they're not blowing innocent Iraqi housewives away, they're picking up some walking-around money from the Department of Education's "No Contractor Left Behind" program. But, oh, those loveable losers!

In an episode that has embarrassed the Department of Education, thousands of flawed testing booklets forced the invalidation of United States reading scores on an international exam administered without major mishap in 56 other countries.

...“I’m really upset about this,” said Mark Schneider, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics at the department. “It’s a big embarrassment.”

...The problem with last fall’s test was that pages in the exam booklet were assigned incorrect numbers. As a result, questions referred students to texts, said to be “on the opposite page,” but in reality printed on a previous page.

...The contractor that printed the tests, RTI International, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., will repay the $500,000 it received for the reading part of the test as part of its overall $2 million contract to administer the exam.

Hey, at least nobody got hurt! Funny, though - when their mercenary subcontractors pumped a few dozen bullets into some young women in front of their children, RTII's spokesman Patrick Gibbons's reaction was (I'm paraphrasing here) "Sofuckinwhat?" Misprint a couple of pages in a test booklet though...
The contractor, North Carolina-based RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute that had a $4 million deal for the project, apologized for the mistake and has stepped up its review process. The contractor has compensated the National Center for Education Statistics $500,000 by a combination of reducing its fee and doing additional work to determine the impact of the error, RTI spokesman Patrick Gibbons said. "This was clearly RTI's error," he added.

Wow! Our contractors IS learning! Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mr. Gibbons. I hope you can put these test booklets out of your mind as quickly as you did those three orphaned children.

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