Idaho's top purchasing official quit days after voters rejected laptop mandate

State Purchasing Manager Mark Little started a new job at the Port of Tacoma on Nov. 13, a week after voters rejected the laptop mandate and other reforms authored by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna.

Some Statehouse scuttlebutt alleges Little quit in disgust over improprieties in the bidding process for the contract to provide laptops for all high school students.

Asked if that's why he left, Little, 57, declined comment. "I don't know about that, but I don't want to talk to you," he said late Wednesday.

Little's official final day working for Idaho was Nov. 15. His boss was Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna, a sister of Superintendent Luna.

Teresa Luna said allegations of impropriety had nothing to do with Little's departure from his post, which paid $71,282 annually. She said Little left for personal reasons. Though it's more expensive to live on the coast, Little got a nice bump as director of contracts and purchasing, making $100,008 per year. The port employs about 250 people.

Melissa McGrath, Tom Luna's spokeswoman, said the bidding process was on the the up-and-up.

The state at first rejected all bids, but two weeks before the election on Propositions 1, 2 and 3, Tom Luna and Gov. Butch Otter announced with great fanfare that Hewlett-Packard won the $180 million contract.

Said Teresa Luna: "Mark told me he planned to leave the state so he could move to Washington to be closer to his children and grandchildren, with whom he has spent every spare hour he could find over the past several months following the birth of his most recent grandchild.

"Mark was a terrific asset to the state and his depth of knowledge will be sorely missed, but when he told me he was behind on making fly rods for his grandchildren and felt the need to be closer to them, I knew we had lost any chance of keeping him. I wish Mark all the best. He has been a good friend and worked tirelessly on the contract to procure one-to-one devices in the state. Despite the result of the election, I know he is proud of this work, as he should be."

Said McGrath: "I cannot comment on personnel matters, especially those in another agency. What I can say is that our agency had a solid working relationship with Mark Little throughout the process to procure 1:1 devices. The process was transparent and followed all policies and procedures set forth by Idaho Code and the Division of Purchasing."

Little is a former military man, widely known in state circles as a by-the-book guy. While polite in our brief phone conversation, he was firm about declining comment. "Please don't bother me again," he began. "I'm not going to answer your questions. I got nothin' to say to you, OK?"

Last year, Little's high standards drew attention when the Department of Administration issued a one-year ban on a Boise IT company from doing business with the state after allegedly double-billing the Department of Correction for $2 million in work on an inmate tracking system.

Little told a Correction Department investigator Jim Loucks that the contractor and his lobbyist came to him seeking state work "without going through the competitive process, just to be handed one or some such," in 2007.

Little told Loucks: "I can't just go out and give contracts out to people...without going through the competitive bid process."

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Good. They were just

Good. They were just feeding our tax dollars to corporations ala ALEC.

Hewlett-Packard employs a lot of Treasure Valley residents???

Please try and think a little harder before engaging your parietal(sp) lobe.


Nothing happened and what if it did?

So he was principled ...

Too bad for Idaho. Sounds like a loss for Idaho in a worthwhile employee. We need more principled people in state government, especially down at the statehouse. I'm sure a vulture type lackey is waiting in the wings to take up his position.


that during the Technology Task Force meetings, there was one devoted to explaining to members how the purchasing process worked, because there was concern that members were talking to vendors individually and there were concerns about potential improprieties. Was Mr. Little (no relation to Brad, I gather) the whistleblower on that one?

Since you asked: Mark Little is no kin to Lt. Gov. Brad Little

Mark Little did live in Emmett, Brad Little's hometown.

But there's no relation, according to the lieutenant governor.

Dan Popkey

Sounds like

much ado about nada.


Washington State gets Mr. LIttle and we get to keep Luna, Luna and McGrath.

I'm thinkin' we got the fuzzy end of the lollipop on that deal...

Thanks,Mark Little, for your

Thanks,Mark Little, for your state service; enjoy your retirement and your family.

What retirement?


Malaprops meant resignation and new job/


Nothing happened and what if it did?

"Some Scuttlebutt"

Some Statehouse scuttlebutt alleges Little quit in disgust over improprieties in the bidding process for the contract to provide laptops for all high school students, a mandate overturned by voters Nov. 6.

Read more here:

MR Popkey,
If I want scuttlebutt I can find it in the Enquirer. It seems you just cant help yourself when it comes to stirring the pot. I find "reporting" like this to be totally unprofessional.

Please try to refrain from inventing the news and stick to reporting it. Thankyou!

Would you say his departure is not newsworthy?

I think it was. And it was brought to my attention because of the rumors.

Had Mr. Little denied being troubled by the bidding process, I would have handled this differently.

He didn't. He wouldn't answer any questions. I think that's worth a blog post.

Dan Popkey

Ever hear of legal obligations?


Nothing happened and what if it did?

Mark Little

I would sure like to hear what Mark really thought about the IEN bid award also now that he is no longer employed by the State.

yeah, good point

not to mention Molina. It turns out 38 other states use Xerox for Medicare MIS, and I don't think they were even considered. If they didn't submit a bid, why not?

When you and other realize those URLs are for THIS STORY?!?


Nothing happened and what if it did?

Since when does a retired

Since when does a retired state employee have to answer your questions?

Talk about stretching rumor in search of a non story. Come on! How about all the other state employees who have retired recently. Did you contact any of them as to why they retired.

Not retired.

The very first sentence says he started a new job.

He retired from state

He retired from state government work. That is the rest of the story not indicated here. He submitted his retirement a month ago.

So he went work in Washington after he retired from Idaho. So what!

So he's still working and not retired. He RESIGNED.


Nothing happened and what if it did?

Look up "retire"

It doesn't mean he got new rubber for his rig.

He COULD, now that he makes more...


Nothing happened and what if it did?

I'd heard the rumor

and I'm happy that an enterprising journalist followed it up.

We may have dodged two bullets on this one.

First, after what's going on with HP, who knows if they're going to *be* here in eight years to service the contract.

Second, there'd been talk months ago that some of the potential vendors were threatening to file suit if they weren't picked and if there was anything hinky about the process. Since the contract was cancelled, we're off the hook on that one.

You underestimate Hewlett-Parkard and can't see what they DO/

Which is a lot more than constantly hire and fire dumb CEOs.


Nothing happened and what if it did?


is a class act and has given many years of service to this State with honesty and integrity. I am sorry that his departure has been slightly wounded by the paper. He has tough skin and will laugh about this someday.... And he spins up a nice fly rod! He will be missed.

I am as suspicious of the Luna schenanigans as anyone I know.

However, to anchor 542 words worth of rumors, nods, winks, and implications, to Mark Little’s job switch borders on libel. Trading up to a higher paying job in one of the states to the west is so far from scandal that it doesn’t even rate the term news.

I still have my doubts about Luna and Co., and the HP contract. And, I think proof is there for the finding. Sadly, this is not it.

Not proof,

but it does merit filing away for future ref if more comes out, which I wouldn't be surprised to see.

I drink oly....and

I vote....

Oly is made by...

a foreign company, isn't it?

I guess so is Bud.


Nothing happened and what if it did?

FO....This fine brew I believe is still in

Milwaukee, Wisconsin....

However, they may have been bought out by the Belgium Company that bought Budweiser....I dont know.

I thought it might be a South African company but I don't drink.


Nothing happened and what if it did?

PS I still need food worse than a wet paper.


Nothing happened and what if it did?

This "Popkyesque" story reminds

one of the film, "Mr Hollands Opus". That didn't win an academy award by any chance did it?

I liked Dreyfus better building the Devil's Tower from...



Nothing happened and what if it did?

I liked 'The Lottery'....that short story reminds me of today's


Cant remember if that was Edgar Allen Poe or that other weirdo?


man, they weird. If only we were all normal like you, right Ugly? What a charming place this world would be, no?

It was a Shirley Jackson book, no?


Nothing happened and what if it did?

Melissa McGrath says...

"It's on the up and up" move along folks, nothin' to see here.....

School computers and corruption

This whole thing regarding school computers and apparent shenanigans about which companies to buy them from has the kind of foul odor to it that we often smell in the State of Southern Idaho, which has little separation between church and state!

That church might be smarter than your imaginary state.


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.