Citing Disputes With Lobbyists, Louisiana's CIO DuBos Resigns

Citing Disputes With Lobbyists, Louisiana's CIO DuBos Resigns

Mike Foster

LA Justice Seal

Louisiana Chief Information Officer James DuBos resigned June 18 after just four months on the job, citing harassment by lobbyists for high-tech companies doing business in the state as his primary reason for leaving.

"The lobby community is rampant in the information technology arena," wrote DuBos in a resignation letter to Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster.

"They influence the legislative bodies in preparing legislation, which benefits their clients," the letter continued. "They work to create a 'threat' to the sitting administration, threatening other policies and bills, all for the sake of the betterment of their client's position."

DuBos said the lobbyists' level of influence should not be allowed to continue, and he urged the governor and the legislature to work together to establish operating rules for committee proceedings, with a special focus on access to legislators and appointees.

DuBos, who started the job Feb. 5, was the first chief information officer for Louisiana. He first attempted to resign June 11 following a stormy confirmation hearing the week before, but the governor asked him to reconsider his decision.

Washington Technology received copies of resignation letters dated June 11 and 18 from the governor's office. Phone calls to the department of administration in which DuBos worked were not returned.

Because his appointment was made while the state legislature was not in session, DuBos had to wait for the next session for his confirmation hearing, said Brenda Hodges, a state senate spokeswoman. This year the legislature convened from March to June, she said.

DuBos said in his June 11 resignation letter that he was attacked during his confirmation hearing by a lobbyist from the losing party on a Department of Social Services maintenance and support contract.

The lobbyist accused him of trying to divert work to his former employer, Exodus Communications Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., a Web-hosting firm specializing in outsourcing. DuBos was managing director at Exodus before he became Louisiana's CIO.

The contract to which he was referring was held by TekInsight Inc. of Irvine, Calif. The one-year renewable contract, worth about $1 million, had been held by TekInsight since 1996, said Linda Wise, a company spokeswoman.

DuBos vehemently denied these allegations in his June 11 resignation letter. "While the new contract has not yet finished the procurement process set forth in law, the lobbyist for the potential losing party already has begun an attack," he wrote.

DuBos insisted he had no responsibilities over vendor selection in a departmental contract and said the state has existing procurement code to deal with this type of an issue.

"While I certainly have nothing to gain related to this or any other Exodus Communications transaction, I recognize that the administration will be attacked any time that my former employer wins a right to do business in the state," he wrote.

TekInsight is defending its actions in Louisiana. In a statement provided to Washington Technology, the company said the Department of Social Services contract was summarily withdrawn from TekInsight and awarded to another vendor by the state CIO for no apparent reason, and that it had filed an injunction to gain further clarification on the matter.

"Our company was surprised and puzzled by this decision by the state CIO's office," TekInsight wrote. "Our customers at the Department of Social Services were very satisfied with our service and pricing." In the same statement, TekInsight said it had supported DuBos' appointment and continues to support the governor's efforts to improve the state technical infrastructure and the rules and regulations that govern the procurement of technology and services in Louisiana.

The Louisiana episode reflects the growing importance of CIOs in state government, said Rishi Sood, principal analyst at Gartner Dataquest, Stamford, Conn. The very fact that a technology company would criticize a political appointee to the position shows how important it has become, he said.

While it is unfortunate that DuBos resigned, he should have been aware that he would have to accept the ups and downs associated with being a public figure, Sood said. At the state government level, technology officers are usually career public officials, unlike the federal sector, where it is not uncommon for executives to move back and forth between the public and private sectors, he said.

In that context, DuBos' resignation sets an unhealthy precedent for the transition of creative technology executives from the private sector to the public sector, Sood said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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