Perfect Commerce Weighs In On The Deep Throat Connection Post by Jon Hansen

Posted on April 29, 2015

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Thank you, Jason.

I will share this with our readers.

Please keep in mind that I was not the one to reveal Mr. Blaine’s identity, but said revelation came as a result of his being named by Rick Grimm as one of the respondents to the very RFI he had provided comment on in the Deep Throat post.  

Unfortunately, Mr. Blaine did not indicate that he was one of the respondents – even after his name was published.  In fact, and in quoting an e-mail from Mr. Blaine regarding his identity, he wrote the following; “By now you have discovered Tomblaine is a commune in France and a state on one of the tour de France’s” clearly suggesting that it was a pseudonym.

Had Grimm not provided his name, then I most likely would have continued to operate under the assumption that Tom Blaine was indeed a pseudonym.

There was of course never any mention of his being associated with the Missouri bid in any way, nor was there ever any indication that he had any involvement with Perfect Commerce. This poses a significant problem on many levels. 

While I understand the importance of unnamed sources, the fact that these relationships were not disclosed to me up front meant that when I discovered the nature of Mr. Blaine’s involvement, had I not reported it, then it could be reasonably argued that my coverage was biased against the NIGP, Periscope and in particular Mr. Grimm.  Even though I believe that there are serious problems relating to the conflict of the NIGP – Persicope relationship, by withholding material information that could draw into question both the motives for Mr. Blaine sharing it, as well as its overall veracity, would undermine my creditability with the readers and draw into question anything that I have or will write regarding problems at the NIGP. This could include suggestions that Procurement Insights’ coverage was unfair and/or designed to further the interests of Perfect Commerce at the expense of Periscope.

In the end, by not disclosing what I discovered I would in essence be letting the NIGP, Periscope and Grimm off the hook.

The above was my response to the following message I received from Perfect Commerce regarding my April 27th post  The Deep Throat 2015 – Perfect Commerce Connection.

As is my policy, what I am about to share with you has not been edited or changed from its original state, so as to preserve the integrity of the dialogue.

In relation to Tom Blaine (aka Deep Throat), it is still my intention to share his complete and unedited statement once I have received the answer to two very important questions, which are as follows:

  1. Would he (being Tim Blaine) have come forward as Deep Throat, if the award of the contract by Missouri to Perfect Commerce had not been challenged by Periscope (NIGP) or, if he was not involved with both Missouri and Perfect Commerce?
  2. If he was not motivated by his involvement with Missouri and Perfect Commerce, and the subsequent Periscope (NIGP) challenge, then why did he wait so long to come forward? After all, it was clear that he had serious issues with the 2012 RFI process that resulted in Periscope taking over the NIGP consulting arm.  In fact, and based on his e-mail dated April 6th – which was sent while he was still working with both Missouri and Perfect Commerce, it appears that he was not alone in his concerns regarding overall NIGP conduct. This was reflected in his written statement “There is a lot of frustration in the public procurement community to what NIGP has done over the past few years. You have given that frustration a voice.”

Once I receive Tom’s answer to these two questions, I will post his statement.

The reason his response is important is that he had contacted me while he was still engaged with both Missouri and Perfect Commerce. According to Tom, his relationship with Missouri ended on April 15th – after he had begun his dialogue with me as Deep Throat.  According to the Perfect Commerce response below, his relationship with them ended following my April 27th post.

Obviously I take no pleasure in Tom having to end his relationship with Missouri and Perfect Commerce. However, given that he had an active and direct involvement with both of these organizations, and that they were part of a dispute with Persicope (NIGP), there was what could be construed as a vested interest in the outcome. As a result, this could draw into question not only his motives for approaching me, but perhaps even the veracity of his information in general.

While my investigation clearly shows that there are indeed serious problems regarding the apparent conflicts of interest of NIGP relationships – particularly with Periscope, it would not have been fair to either Periscope or the NIGP to remain silent once Tom’s identity and involvement became known to me.

Full-Disclosure

In the meantime, here is the Perfect Commerce official statement:

Since 2012, Perfect Commerce has valued and benefited from the independent consulting services of the distinguished public procurement professional, Mr. Tom Blaine.   In 2012, Perfect Commerce, the successor to Commerce One (formerly NASDAQ: CMRC), entered the state and local government e-procurement sector when it acquired WebProcure, a state and local government procurement software product built using Commerce One procurement software.   Mr. Blaine, as a former Director of Purchasing for the State of Missouri (1991) and past President of NIGP (1993), has proven to be a valuable resource for Perfect Commerce’s product development efforts as it has adapted itself from a company focused solely on the commercial market into a serious competitor in the state and local government e-procurement market.   We believe a critical point is missed in all of the recent articles that subject companies like Perfect Commerce build software to streamline public procurement hence the actual procurement professionals are users and consumers of our products. As a result, it is not only normal but should be very critical/expected to have people with former or current expertise in public sector procurement advise on improving these products. Tom’s role has been and will continue to be exactly that.

We understand from Mr. Blaine that he had been communicating with you and was one of your sources of information regarding the NIGP’s relationship with Periscope.  Mr. Blaine is not a spokesman for Perfect Commerce and was communicating with you without our knowledge.   He has indicated that you had promised to keep his identity private.   It is clear that he felt strongly that NIGP and Periscope had acted unfairly when they jointly participated in the bid protest against Perfect Commerce in Missouri.   Mr. Blaine states that he never hid his identity from you or his relationships with Missouri, Perfect Commerce, or with the NIGP.  After reading your most recent blog post, Mr. Blaine informed Perfect Commerce that he would be removing himself from any involvement in the Missouri implementation project.  We believe that you may not have treated Mr. Blaine fairly. 

It is inappropriate to compare Mr. Blaine’s relationship with Perfect Commerce to the NIGP-Periscope relationship.   Mr. Blaine is a private individual and has not worked for the state of Missouri in over twenty years.   Perfect Commerce is a privately held “for profit” company.   Mr. Blaine helping our product team as an independent consultant (implying free to consult others) has been a public knowledge. Perfect Commerce’s market approach has always been to meet and exceed customer expectations while offering a low price.   We compete fairly and openly.   We believe in competition and transparency in public procurement. We fully support your rightful efforts to free NIGP organization from commercial objectives and become a true non-profit for public’s benefit organization with transparent processes treating all vendors fairly.

NOTE: The above statement was sent to me via e-mail by Jason Vincelette, VP, Marketing & Product Management for Perfect Commerce.

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