Maryland CIO's history with vendor stalls buy

Maryland CIO Linda Burek says the decision is on hold: 'We're regrouping now.'

Maryland's Budget and Management Department wanted an assessment of the state's enterprise architecture. It seemed like a direct enough demand, until the contract for the project was sidelined by a blast from the past.

'We wanted to find out what would be the most sympatico kind of systems,' said Bill Bowser, procurement officer at the department. 'We wanted a road map.'

Likely winner

Last month, the department announced that it had received 15 proposals for the $17 million, five-year contract, six of which were deemed contenders. Of those, the one that received top scores from the department's Office of Information Technology was Software Performance Systems Inc.

But it turns out Maryland CIO Linda Burek, who was the department lead for the contract, had some past experiences with the company. She had been accused in 1999 by the federal government of channeling a 1998 contract to the Arlington, Va., company, which had offered her a job while she was director of the systems technology staff for the Justice Department's Management Division.

Burek subsequently worked nine days for the company, then returned to Justice. Justice's Criminal Division prosecuted the case. Burek agreed to pay the government $5,000 in exchange for the dismissal of any conflict-of-interest claims.

But last month, when Burek again crossed paths with Software Performance Systems, her department withdrew the recommendation for the contract at a meeting June 19.

None of the six vendors made an issue out of Burek's past experience with the company, she said. The conflict came to light in a Baltimore Business Journal article before the contract protest period expired, she said. They could have protested, but they didn't.

Burek speculated that a disgruntled vendor brought up the issue of her past experience with Software Performance Systems. 'Vendors are very hungry right now,' Burek said.
The procurement is on hold. 'We're regrouping now,' Burek said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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