First, here is the full statement from A&F spokesman Joe Landolfi. I have underlined the only parts that made it into the Globe.
The US Attorney’s indictment indicates that the initial Cognos matter began in 2004 under a prior administration. Two investigations into this matter have been concluded – by the US Attorney and the Inspector General – and there have been absolutely no allegations by the investigators of misconduct of any kind by any senior Patrick administration official. Patrick administration officials cooperated fully with both investigations. In fact, the Inspector General’s report specifically concluded that the decision to award the contract to Cognos was made on the basis of the recommendation of the then-acting Chief Information Officer – an appointee of the prior administration – who withheld information about concerns raised by the procurement team from her superiors. The Patrick administration brought in a new CIO who was made aware of irregularities with the procurement process and the administration referred the matter to an independent investigatory agency, revoked the contract and obtained a full refund of the $13 million paid to Cognos.
We are confident that senior administration officials acted appropriately at all times. In response to inquiries about the role of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, we believe that the right decisions were made given the information presented at the time. Given that this is an ongoing prosecution, we feel it is most appropriate to not interfere with the judicial process by responding to specific facts in the case until the process comes to a conclusion.
Now, I don’t expect the Globe to run the entire statement. But there’s some quite useful information in there that I would think readers would like to know about — specifically, (1) that this began under the Romney administration, and (2) that the decision by A&F Secretary Kirwan to go forward was made based on misinformation relayed by the Romney holdover CIO, Bethann Pepoli. Way down in the bowels of the article, the Globe does report that “administration officials pointed blame for the award at a holdover from the Romney administration, [acting CIO] Pepoli. Pepoli selected the winning bidder and recommended approval to higher-level officials in a bid process that has since been found to be improper.” But the Inspector General’s report is quite clear that, as Landolfi’s statement says, Pepoli gave Kirwan bad information. Whereas the Globe’s version suggests that there was some technical flaw in the procurement process, and Pepoli just passed along what the procurement people told her. That’s not the case.
Here is the relevant passage of the Inspector General’s report explaining what happened (you can read the whole thing here (PDF)):
[T]he procurement management team began but never finalized its evaluation of the bidders. Instead, after meeting with all three vendors who responded to the Request for Quotes, the team unanimously felt that much more information had to be gathered because they did not adequately understand how various agencies and administrators would use performance management software. This view was expressed in an interim evaluation drafted just before the procurement was suspended. In it the group recommended the process start over with extensive investigation of the business needs and technological requirements of line agencies, top executive branch officials and legislative users….
Nevertheless, this uniformly held opinion was not what was communicated to you. While the procurement management team had urged that the procurement be re-done, on May 18, the acting Chief Information Officer at ITD presented a status report with interim evaluation results to your deputy, Henry Dormitzer. According to each of their accounts of the meeting, the acting Chief Information Officer said that Cognos was the best choice for performance management software procurement. Dormitzer subsequently relayed this misinformation to you during a conversation in the spring, according to your memory of events. That verbally transmitted representation apparently formed the basis of your belief that due diligence had been performed to achieve “best value” for the state and that Cognos Corporation had been deemed the top-scoring vendor of the three respondents. On that basis, you signed the $13 million order agreement in August.
This outcome, no matter how well intentioned, does not comply with the enhanced procurement rules adopted to conform to Chapter 27 of the Acts of 2007 or to 801 CMR 21.00. Accordingly, this office concludes that this procurement must be voided, the Cognos software returned, the $13 million repaid to the state, and a proper procurement be conducted for performance management software.
And, of course, that is exactly what happened.
Also weirdly absent from the Globe story is any reference to the parts of the indictment that paint Secretary Kirwan as standing in the way of the Cognos deal, even though the story refers to other parts of the indictment that implicate deputy chief of staff David Morales (UPDATE: Joan Vennochi’s column does mention that Kirwan “appears to be the only person who tried to stop the Cognos deal”). For example, in a story that focuses heavily on Secretary Kirwan’s involvement, why would you not mention this (emphasis mine):
90. On or about June 22, 2007, Cognos Executive A sent an email to LALLY about the status of the deal, stating, in part: “Let’s go in and have a sales call to determine what the issue is and how to play it. My gut on this is that she [Secretary of A&F] is not a fan of how the overall deal is structured or has developed and is holding out either her support and/or multi-year budget project as a result.” LALLY responded in an email:
Sal, Dick and I discussed this last night at the democratic fund raiser…. That is the situation we are in [sic] currently involved in right now. We have a rogue Secretary that has some issues on how PM should be purchased and implemented. We are dealing with her boss [David Morales] and he is coaching us on how to handle the situation. Our consensus is to ride it out with her management for now and trust that they will come through….
Could more have been done? Sure. More can always be done. But a front-page, above-the-fold story based on “critics” like Brad Jones and Richard Tisei? Um, no. If the standard for a front-page story is that Jones and Tisei have something bad to say about the Patrick administration, we’d have one every day.
Disclosure: I have known Secretary Kirwan since I worked in the State House in the late ’90s, though not all that well. Bob has known her for many years. We have not had any communication with Secretary Kirwan regarding the Cognos matter.