The Department of Education wants to phase out a major computer contractor that's under investigation for improperly outsourcing some work to Turkey and India, an agency source said Thursday.
In a hastily called meeting Wednesday morning, DOE officials discussed shifting work away from the company, Future Technology Associates, and assigning it to other firms, a source with direct knowledge of the meeting said.
DOE spokeswoman Marge Feinberg denied any changes have been made. She said the DOE is cooperating in an ongoing probe by Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon, who is looking into possible inflated billings and self-dealing in FTA's $43million contract.
City Controller John Liu also has launched an audit of the FTA contract, a source in Liu's office confirmed.
The Daily News reported this week that FTA has employed 15 people in Turkey and India for more than three years to service the New York City school system's computer network while charging taxpayers at least $110 an hour for those programmers.
The company did not get required written approval from the DOE to outsource its work, officials say.
In addition, FTA's chief executives, Tamer Sevintuna and Jon Krohe, never revealed that they own the Turkish firm, Krono Bilgisayar, that supplied most of the foreign workers.
Krohe did not initially disclose that he owned another Florida consulting firm, Mera Consulting, which was paid $14million to supply FTA with additional consultants for the DOE project.
Last May, two weeks after probers began asking FTA's lawyers about Mera, Krohe dissolved the company. He then amended his financial disclosure statement to list his ownership.
Still, Sevintuna and Krohe did not mention ownership of the Turkish company. Records show the men formed Krono in Ankara in September 2007.
When they formed their Turkish company, Sevintuna and Krohe appointed a man named Mustafa Cemi Arpaci as its day-to-day chief executive. Arpaci runs Krono's affairs in Turkey while also serving as a full-time long-distance consultant to our school system.
DOE pay records show that during a 15-day period, from March 1 to March15, 2011, Arpaci billed the agency for 88 hours of work at a rate of $140 per hour. That works out to $12,320, or roughly $300,000 annually.
It's nearly double what the president of Turkey makes.
Condon's probers haven't figured out how much of that money went to Arpaci, and how much to Sevintuna and Krohe.
Lawyers for the Turkish firm have refused to furnish its payroll records to investigators.
Walden told probers Sevintuna and Krohe have no power to order the Turkish firm to do anything - even though they own it .
Over at Tweed, the same midlevel managers who routinely granted Arpaci and the other foreign workers remote access to DOE's computer network can't get away from this FTA investigation fast enough.
They're already scouting out replacement computer firms.
When Bloomberg goes ahead with layoffs in a month, it is incumbent upon the UFT and other opponents to challenge the layoffs by using not only the CityTime scandal but this probe of Tweed outsourcing and to point out that the DOE spends hundreds of millions on other outside contracts that have no independent oversight.