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Missouri curator's company earns $2.5 million UM contract

Saturday, August 20, 2011 | 3:39 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A new Missouri curator's computer company has collected more than $2.5 million from the university system since the state Senate confirmed his appointment four months ago.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported this week that St. Louis-based World Wide Technologies has sold routers, switches and other networking products totaling roughly $2.55 million to the university since April 7. The company was founded in 1990 by new curator David Steward, who remains its board chairman.

Steward disclosed his financial interest in an annual conflict-of-interest form curators are required to submit by Aug. 15. Curators are allowed to do business with the four-campus University of Missouri System as long as the contracts exceeding $10,000 are competitively bid.

The company's contract runs from March 2010 through March 2013. The UM System signed the contract before Steward joined the Board of Curators, said Steve Mack, director of procurement services.

The university system shifted its contract for Cisco networking services and products from AT&T to Steward's company earlier this year after a detailed cost analysis, Mack said. The Maryland Heights company's bid was 19 percent better than AT&T's offer, Mack said.

"We started the analysis (of the Cisco contract) well before the announcement that David was going to become part of the Board of Curators," Mack said. "For the most part, we came to the conclusion that we would move to the WWT contract with the state well before he came on the board."

The Tribune was unable to reach Steward for comment. He was not at a curators' meeting Friday in Kansas City and did not immediately respond to an Associated Press interview request.

One other member of the nine-person governing board reported a business relationship with the university this past year.

David Bradley, chief executive officer of News-Press & Gazette Co. in St. Joseph, disclosed that his publishing company printed an Alumni Week publication for the UM-Kansas City this year for $3,004. The contract was awarded through a sealed-bid process, Bradley said. This is the first year UMKC contracted with Bradley's company, and Bradley said he was made aware of the project only after it had been awarded.

The conflict-of-interest forms are required under a 4-year-old ethics policy the board adopted following questions surrounding a contract between the publishing company of former curator Don Walsworth, and the flagship Columbia campus' athletic department.

The reports are an additional requirement beyond the financial disclosure forms required by the Missouri Ethics Commission that detail curators' business ventures, real estate holdings and stock investments worth more than $10,000. Steward reported earlier this year having more than 120 stocks exceeding that amount.


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