Connecticut’s Department of Education circumvented state contracting laws by giving money to a nonprofit with a specific purpose: to buy training and technology related to the state’s new teacher evaluation process.

The Connecticut Association of Schools, a nonprofit that serves principals across the state, published a request for proposals in March. Two weeks later, when bidding was closed, nine companies had bid on the project.

The legislature endorsed this procedure in 2010 by allowing state grants to associations representing superintendents, boards of educations or schools.

BloomBoard, a California-based company, won the $1.2 million software contract. TrueNorthLogic of Sandy, Utah, won both training components of the project for a total cost of $589,600.

The agreement between CAS and BloomBoard explicitly says CAS has no responsibility for paying the company unless the state provides funding:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Agreement, CAS shall not be obligated to pay for any of the Consultant’s Services or expenses unless and until the Connecticut Department of Education provides funding to CAS for the Services and expenses to be provided under this Agreement.  In the event that such funds are not made available to CAS, CAS shall notify the Consultant in writing and this Agreement shall terminate immediately.  Under no circumstances shall CAS (i) be responsible to pay the Consultant for the performance of Services or expenses unless and until the State Department of Education provides funds for this Agreement, or (ii) be required to use its own funds to pay the Consultant for the performance of Services or expenses.

In February, state auditors criticized the department for using the improperly formed State Education Resource Center to skirt contracting rules.

SERC poses a unique set of problems because it was created by the legislature, but granting money to CAS also raises questions about the state’s contracting rules and transparency.

A department spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

CAS assistant executive director V. Everett Lyons provided the contract with BloomBoard and the initial RFP, but said the proposals from the other bidders are no longer available.

“The unsuccessful proposals were discarded at the end of the Phase 1 work period since ample time was provided to the unsuccessful vendors who wished to request copies,” Lyons said.

Typically, regulations require state agencies to keep responses to an RFP for at least three years.