I was able to speak with Desire2Learn Director of Marketing John McLeod to confirm that his comment on my previous post means what it appears to mean:
All vendors enter every RFP process with the view that the process will be fair and equitable. We all invest resources to respond to RFPs, make presentations, and demonstrate our capabilities. In virtually every case, we accept the decision.
Michael is correct, Utah law requires that a protest be made within 5 days of a decision, and an appeal – which must be filed in court – be made within 14 days of a denial. We have requested materials under Utah’s freedom of information laws. We will carefully review the materials when we receive them to better understand this process.
Out of respect for institutions in Utah and our desire to concentrate on serving our customers, we are immediately dropping this appeal. We want to reassure everyone that our focus continues to be on improving education.
On the phone, John re-iterated that Desire2Learn’s motivation was to better understand the decision-making process and making sure that it was fair.
It would behoove colleges and universities to become more sophisticated about this sort of thing. On the one hand, ethics laws exist for a reason and, as one commenter on the previous post noted, it is perfectly reasonable for a company to want to ensure that those ethics laws were followed. (I recommend reading the whole comments thread, by the way; the range of perspectives is interesting.) On the other hand, these challenges definitely get abused sometimes. So it should be routine for schools to share information about these sorts of things when they happen, but also to be careful to get all the facts. Every situation is different.
In fact, this whole situation might have played out differently had more of the details of the process been pro-actively published in the first place. That’s not a criticism of UEN; I recognize that there are all kinds of reasons why it is difficult (and sometimes even legally impossible) to share some of this. But in general, I do think that schools would benefit greatly by taking a position of publishing all evaluation process information by default and only making private what needs to be private, rather than the other way around. This change would require some non-trivial rethinking of processes and policies, as well as significant extra work, but the end result would be better contract negotiations based on shared data and best practices from peer schools as well as fewer (though higher quality) challenges after the fact.