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Dealing with lack of conflicts of interests

I have already received one call about Robert Guerra's column in the Aug. 22 issue criticizing the companies that are protesting the Army Knowledge Online contract award. The person who called me asked if Guerra has any contractual ties to any of the winning bidders.

I posted about disclosures back in May, but the issue is worthy of revisiting.

First off, just let me just say that I did ask and Guerra said he does not. He did say, however, that he is passionate about this issue – and I think that comes through in the column.

Last week, we had a bit of a debate about how to deal with this precise issue -- a lack of a conflict of interest. Do we specifically note that Guerra does not have any contractual ties to these companies? If so, do I note that in every column that FCW publishes? And do I list every company that the person does NOT have ties with?

Were there some link, we would state that, of course. Just because there is a conflict does not mean that we would not run a column. To the contrary. And in this specific case, we probably would have still run the column. But when there is a potential conflict, we say that. And our decision was to not list lack of conflicts.

Our general rule is to list conflicts when they exist, but I am reluctant to start listing each time there are not conflicts.

But I stand to be corrected.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Aug 23, 2005 at 12:14 PM


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