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Can Race to Top Funds Pay to Settle Vendor Contract Disputes?

Perhaps you saw this eyebrow-raising headline the other day:

"Fla. using Race to the Top grant money to settle lawsuit with company hired to build website", from the Associated Press.

And perhaps you asked:

Can Race to the Top money really be used for this?

Yes.

The U.S. Department of Education told me that the settlement was for services already provided, so it's allowable. Florida had been withholding $1.25 million from its vendor, Infinity Software Development, because of a contract dispute over the building of a new website to help teachers prepare for the Common Core State Standards.

The settlement ends a tumultuous relationship between the state and the company, and leaves Florida without a website that it promised as part of its winning $700 million Race to the Top grant.

So even though this was an allowable use of federal tax dollars, given that there's no new website, it's reasonable to ask whether this was a good use of Race to the Top money.

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