Balutis in talks to leave FGIPC

Top officials of two information technology associations will meet with Alan Balutis on Dec. 19 to negotiate his departure as the executive director of the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils (FGIPC), a collection of professional groups that fosters communication among federal IT managers and users and industry.

In recent months, Balutis has come under fire from the corporate members of the Industry Advisory Council (IAC), one of the largest FGIPC councils, for accepting consulting work from several companies that are members of the organization he heads. IAC represents more than 400 IT contractors, which compete for billions of dollars' worth of business with the federal government.

Many corporate members raised the concern that Balutis' consulting work presented a conflict of interest. They were concerned that he may favor those companies he works with by choosing those members to run important committees, meetings or other organization functions.

FCW Media Group, parent company of Federal Computer Week, FCW.com and the E-Gov conferences, is a member of IAC and hired Balutis as a consultant to help develop content over the past two years for the company's conferences and events.

In November, the IAC and FGIPC boards sent Balutis a letter informing him that he must discontinue all his consulting work if he wanted to remain FGIPC director. Last week, Balutis responded, saying he would depart effective Jan. 31, but he seeks an exit package from his $138,000-a-year-plus-bonuses job as part of the deal, according to two sources who declined to be identified for this article.

Balutis plans to meet Dec. 19 with John Ortego, president of FGIPC and the director of the Agriculture Department's National Finance Center in New Orleans, and Bob Woods, chairman of the IAC Executive Committee and president of education services at Affiliated Computer Services Inc., to negotiate his departure, according to sources. Ortego declined to comment.

James Buckner, the former president of FGIPC and chief information officer at the Army Materiel Command who helped hire Balutis, said in an interview that Balutis was hired with the understanding that he could have outside work as long as it did not conflict with FGIPC and IAC activities.

"It is not in his signed contract. I went back and looked. That was a final negotiating process that we handled face to face verbally with a handshake," Buckner said.

Balutis declined to comment.

Sources close to the former Commerce Department deputy chief information officer said this week that he had informed his small staff at FGIPC headquarters that he planned to leave.

Other sources said Balutis has never provided the FGIPC board with a list of his consulting work. However, he has done work for Computer Sciences Corp., Accenture, Aquilent Inc. and webMethods Inc., according to one source. He also served on the federal advisory board of Sigaba Corp., according to Joanne Connelly, vice president of Sigaba's public-sector unit.

Robert Guerra, Balutis' close friend and a partner in the recently formed federal IT consulting firm Guerra, Kiviat & Flyzik, compared Balutis to basketball great Michael Jordan. "By analogy, the Chicago Bulls, when they had Michael Jordan, won three national championships," he said. "When Michael Jordan went to play [baseball], the Chicago Bulls became a mediocre team."

Guerra, who characterized Balutis' imminent departure as heartbreaking, added that the IAC and FGIPC boards have made a mistake in losing Balutis. "If I were running the IAC right now, I would be doing every single thing I could to keep Alan with us," he said. "I think he's an incredibly talented guy. I think he's done an incredible job in building IAC back to what it ought to be."

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