Letters to the Editor

Readers react to Balutis consulting questions

As an Industry Advisory Council member for the past seven years, I was very disturbed to read the facts as reported in your article ["Ethics issue roils council," July 1]. I cannot imagine anyone in a responsible position believing the employment arrangement of [Alan] Balutis with IAC, as reported, was not a conflict and allowed to continue.

Joe Corini

President

Computer Marketing Associates



Since Alan Balutis became executive director and chief operating officer of the Industry Advisory Council and the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils, IAC has attracted a record number of new members, is putting on well-attended new programs featuring high-profile senior federal IT executives, and is recognized by federal IT executives as an organization they can turn to for advice on important policy and IT issues.

The fact that the Office of Management and Budget has turned to IAC to help populate industry best practice teams for its e-gov initiatives is a testament to this. There is no doubt that IAC is better off for having Alan at its helm.

As one of the founders of IAC, I find nothing untoward in what Alan has done. It has all been aboveboard and properly disclosed. Alan has delivered value to IAC far in excess of his salary and benefits. We are fortunate to have him, and I am glad that the IAC board took the actions they did to attract him.

I seriously doubt that "there is a growing dissatisfaction among IAC members about the extent of his consulting work." Is there documented testimony to this effect? Is there documented evidence that Alan's clients "get preferential treatment over IAC's other member companies?"

Why do the accusing IAC members hide behind "concerns over turning the issue into a personal conflict?" Are they the type who prefer to stick a knife in the back and hide in the shadows rather than put their case out in the open and defend it? If they believe in their case, why are they afraid of a personal conflict with someone they appear to have contempt for? If not with Alan, with who?

What proof do they have other than innuendo and gossip, which they most likely create and disseminate? What retaliation do they fear? Who do they fear it from?

I'm afraid the net effect of your story will be to hurt IAC far more than it hurts Alan, for those who deal with him know what good he has done and how he goes about his work. Those who don't know him or have little personal interaction with IAC will most likely believe what you have printed: undocumented, unsubstantiated and, as far as you have shown, no more than manufactured allegations.

Jealousy, bitterness and unfulfilled ambition are more than likely the fuel behind this fire, a fire set by "some members" working to undermine Alan, and thereby turn themselves ? in their own minds, at least ? into heroes at some later date.

No one likes "to be had." But without documented evidence of Alan's benefiting from his consulting, as alleged, or his clients having been given and benefited from alleged preferential treatment, I think you have been had, big time.

If you have evidence, by all means, print it. If not, then you ought to make a public apology to Alan and to the IAC board. While in this town the appearance of a conflict of interest is often taken as proof of a conflict, I, for one, still feel proof should come before tar and feathers.

Philip Kiviat

President

The Kiviat Group

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