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When Is It Unethical To Consider A Job Offer From A Vendor?

A scandal is brewing in Massachusetts about whether an executive at a vendor violated state conflict of interest rules by allegedly offering a state official--in this case a department CIO-- a job. What sort of rules do you or your company have about job offers from vendors?
A scandal is brewing in Massachusetts about whether an executive at a vendor violated state conflict of interest rules by allegedly offering a state official--in this case a department CIO-- a job. What sort of rules do you or your company have about job offers from vendors?On Monday, the Boston Globe reported that a former Cognos executive, who launched his own firm to sell Cognos software, allegedly offered Massachusetts' education department CIO at the time, Maureen Chew, a job in 2006 while Cognos was in the midst of seeking a multi-million dollar contract with the state's education department. Chew reportedly disclosed this to state investigators who are probing whether state bidding rules were violated in a 2007 software contract awarded to Cognos. Reportedly, Chew declined the job offer and is currently working in the IT division of another Massachusetts state office.

I'm not going into the other messy details surrounding the situation, since I haven't looked into it myself as a reporter.

However, the story in the Boston Globe spotlighted a topic I thought relevant to ask CIOs and other IT professionals. You guys and gals deal with tech vendors all the time. At what point is it considered a conflict of interest if one of these vendors were to pitch a job offer to you or one of your staff?

To me, it would seem like an obvious no-no to evaluate a job offer in the midst of contract bids or negotiations with that vendor. But what's the grace period after the deal is done? How long would you wait to ponder a career move to a vendor if a great-sounding job opportunity came your way?

Have you switched employment from vendor to IT organization (or vice versa) during your career? How did that go?

Or perhaps the thought of going over to "the dark side"--taking a job with a vendor--is something you'd just never consider. If so, why?

Tell us what you think.

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