Letters to the Editor
A thin veil unveiled
Each week Federal Computer Week publishes an article by Steven Kelman and identifies him as a Weatherhead Professor of Public Management at Harvard. While this is true, it is also incomplete. Kelman is also a member of the board of directors of Government Technology Services Inc. and a substantial shareholder of GTSI.
These articles, couched from the perspective of providing an insightful view into the federal government IT marketplace, are really nothing more than a thin veil to support the corporate position of GTSI.
I have no problem with FCW publishing these tidbits from Kelman. I am willing to assume you would do the same for any large advertiser of your publication. I simply think it is important to accurately represent to your readers his position at GTSI so readers can have a complete, accurate understanding that most of his articles are self-serving to his interest in GTSI.
Steven W. Baldwin Chief Executive OfficerIntelliSys Technology Corp.
Editors' response: We agree with Baldwin that affiliations that might influence one's point of view should be disclosed. We reported Kelman's appointments to both GTSI and Federal Sources Inc. shortly after they happened in November 1997. In articles where GTSI is mentioned, we disclose the affiliation.
We do not know what in particular Baldwin objects to in recent Kelman columns, but we find Kelman's positions on many of the procurement and past-performance issues unchanged from the time when he was administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and was driving reform. The suggestion that somehow advertisers are given special treatment in the editorial pages is an insult, based on inaccurate information and a very limited understanding of how reputable news organizations operate.
Kelman's response: My position on the board of directors of GTSI is, of course, a matter of public record. Baldwin's charge, however, is utterly absurd. I presume he is referring to my support of the Air Force's Desktop BPA and my defense of the Air Force's use of a past-performance survey as a screening device. The Air Force did not invite IntelliSys to bid. When I was first asked about this issue by an FCW reporter, I told her, and was quoted in FCW as saying, "I think a company like [Computer Discount Warehouse-Government] that is fairly new to the federal marketplace has a legitimate complaint. SSG owes it to itself to check with [CDW-G's] commercial customers for their past performance in the market."
CDW-G is a direct competitor of GTSI. If I were interested in promoting GTSI's narrow corporate interests in my statements, I would hardly have spoken favorably about what I considered to be CDW-G's fair beef.
Baldwin's broader suggestion that my column somehow regularly promotes GTSI's interests is a total mystery to me. Every column I write is written from the perspective of best value for the government and cooperation between government customers and results-oriented IT vendors. I have no idea which columns he is referring to. I can assure him that GTSI's narrow corporate interests do not enter my mind for a moment when I write.