Administration Department head to step down

A key figure in the Idaho Education Network broadband contract fiasco is stepping down.

Teresa Luna is leaving the helm of the state Department of Administration, Gov. Butch Otter announced Tuesday.

Teresa Luna, 2.5.15
Teresa Luna, testifying before the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee in February.

Luna, named department director in 2011, will step down at the end of the 2015 legislative session.

Luna has come under fire for her department’s handling of the network, a project designed to bring high-speed Internet into the state’s high schools. Luna surprised lawmakers in 2014, with revelations that the state was no longer receiving federally administered matching dollars for the system, as a Federal Communications Commission contractor questioned the network’s $60 million contract. Luna also surprised lawmakers by extending the contract, without their knowledge.

The contract has since been thrown out by Ada County District Judge Patrick Owen — leaving the system defunct. Legislative budget-writers have responded by moving money and oversight of broadband from Administration to state superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s department. The State Department of Education has helped school districts secure broadband to replace the network this school year — an arrangement legislative budget-writers hope to continue in 2015-16.

Here’s more about the shakeup from “Idaho Reports'” Melissa Davlin, who broke the Luna story this afternoon.

And here, in full, is the Otter news release. (The release mentions neither the Idaho Education Network nor Mike Gwartney by name. Gwartney, a longtime Otter confidante and Luna’s predecessor at Administration, engineered the contract that has been thrown out in court.)

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“Gov. C.L. ‘Butch’ Otter announced today that Idaho Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna will resign from that position after this session of the Idaho Legislature. 

“An interim director will be appointed at that time, Governor Otter said. 

“The Department of Administration has about 145 employees.

“’I admire Teresa’s tenacity and commitment to doing the right thing,’ Governor Otter said. ‘I am proud to call her a friend.’

“Luna was appointed director at the Department of Administration in March 2011. She previously was chief of staff at the agency and interim director after the previous director’s 2010 retirement. 

“The Department of Administration is responsible for such state government functions as contracting for and purchasing of goods and services, technology oversight, risk management, group insurance, public works, and administrative rules.”

 

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