I’ve been following the media coverage of the Cognos bribery case with the Massachusetts speaker of the house, Sal DiMasi, with great curiosity. Dimasi was recently convicted. But, what strike me as being very interesting is how IBM was able to completely avoid what I thought would become a public relations catastrophe. For whatever reasons, almost all the US media coverage of this fraud case focused on the rogue Massachusetts high officers clerks who agreed to award Cognos some $13M in software sales in favor of pocketing tens of thousands of dollars for themselves.
The coverage I followed was primarily on Boston National Public Radio station and the boston.com publication. Dimasi’s name has been all over the coverage, and the $25,000 he was given to award Cognos the contracts is mentioned again and again. However, all this was going down right around the time IBM bought Cognos. It’s quite obvious that a large state wide software deal worth over $13M in software sales alone would have been visible during the purchase of Cognos. How did this kickback scheme elude IBM execs when they were conducting their due-diligence before buying Cognos is not clear. It is also not clear how come the state of Massachusetts is still conducting business as usual with Cognos.
As a BI professional, who is passionate about providing information for individuals and business to help them improve their business and processes, I find it highly disturbing that a company that has such a message carved on its flag would be involved in such unethical and illegal practices. Perhaps this is a bit naïve, but I really thought that that type of corporate scandalous activity is reserved for high flying financial corporations, Enrons and such, and to be associated with an industry that employs these kind of practices is a very sobering fact.
Finally, you have to wonder if the prosecutors used Cognos fraud detection capabilities, as advertised by IBM here to find out about this…