Industry

TechAmerica details accusations

Shawn Osborne_TechAmerica CEO

In a newly beefed-up court filing, TechAmerica officials spelled out what they say was a targeted, coordinated pilfering of some of the association's most valuable proprietary documents by former employees just before they abruptly left for a rival association.

TechAmerica's initial filing in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Nov. 8 provided general allegations about the theft of membership information by the former employees but gave few specifics. An amended filing on Dec. 9 accuses the former employees of a coordinated, targeted theft of competitive information that rival Information Technology Industry Council could capitalize on.

TechAmerica's original suit followed the Nov. 4 resignation of four of its most senior public procurement lobbyists: Trey Hodgkins, Erica McCann, Pam Walker and Carol Henton. On Nov. 5, ITI announced that the four would form the core of its new venture, the IT Alliance for Public Sector.

In its initial court filing, TechAmerica named Hodgkins, Walker and Henton, but not McCann. TechAmerica is seeking $5 million in damages, a temporary restraining order barring the disclosure of its trade secrets, a permanent injunction, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and court costs.

ITI's leadership called the claims in TechAmerica's initial filing "nebulous" and has asked the court to dismiss the suit.

Of the latest TechAmerica filing, Robert Hoffman, ITI's senior vice president of government relations, said in a statement that his organization was "confident that we will be successful in court, while at the same continuing to advance our industry's job-creating policy agenda."

TechAmerica is now accusing Hodgkins of copying a substantial number of proprietary membership documents and reports to a virtual TechAmerica Dropbox account and later changing the password from his home computer to deny TechAmerica access to it.

The filing alleges that on Nov. 4 -- the day before they left for ITI -- both Hodgkins and Henton accessed TechAmerica's Salesforce.com customer relationship management platform, and afterward, Hodgkins sent "many TechAmerica documents to his personal email account" from his TechAmerica account. Among those documents, the suit alleges, was a detailed timetable for TechAmerica's 2014 Federal CIO Survey, the association's premier annual research project that asks dozens of federal CIOs about their concerns for the coming year.

"In particular, access to this document would assist TechAmerica's competitors in creating similar research reports and events," the filing states.

The association also alleges that Henton emailed Hodgkins a copy of TechAmerica's "Public Sector Board Principles of Operation," a password-protected document that governs the operations of the board of directors that oversees the association’s Public Sector Group. TechAmerica said the document would give a competitor the ability to re-create similar processes and procedures for its own public-sector group, making it more attractive to TechAmerica's members.

"The complaint now includes additional details uncovered during our ongoing investigation," TechAmerica President and CEO Shawn Osborne said in a statement released Dec. 12. "What we are finding continues to surprise us in the egregious, unethical and illegal actions of these ITI employees. Because we believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant, we are being extraordinarily transparent with ITI's management and board as well as the community at large, which is extremely unusual in this situation. We remain hopeful that ITI will demonstrate a commitment to legal and ethical business practices for the good of the industry."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Wed, Dec 18, 2013

Given that a vast majority of members have left, think this may be Tech America's only hope of making payroll for the few remaining employees they have left.

Fri, Dec 13, 2013

This public display of poor leadership makes our industry look bad. Take it offline for goodness sake.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group