HP's former chairman trusted her chief counsel and the company's head of legal ethics to approve methods to plug leaks from HP's board. How did they investigate? They used an outsourced company which has been working "as a captive contractor" for Hewlett-Packard for at least eight years.
HP 3000 customers from the late 1990s might do the math on that figure and see that Security Outsourced Solutions could well have been working on HP's bust of the illegal broker community selling HP 3000s. Those investigations ramped up in 1999, seven years ago. One of the operatives in that case, Fred Adler, also testified in HP's charges against Allegro Consultants in 2002, in a spin-off case where HP charged the company with engineering a unprotected version of SS_CONFIG, a key tool used in the broker investigation. Adler spoke plainly in the Congressional hearings last week. He's now an HP employee, and he reported that HP considered the SOS pretexting procedures a standard practice.
That statement has to be reckoned against the denials of former chairman Dunn, chief legal counsel Baskins and CEO Hurd, who all say they never heard of pretexting, or never heard it was part of the SOS procedure. Top leaders of HP said they believed private phone records are available though a public Web site. It's up to HP's customers to decide if they want to trust a company with so many innocents at the senior executive level. Investors don't care. HP's share price rose another 80 cents on Wednesday.
Although the misconduct at the top of HP is separate from the daily
activities of the HP 3000 engineers, the top of HP is where legal
actions get reviewed and approved — legal activities that still have an
impact on the future of HP 3000 customers, especially those who are homesteading on
One long-time contributor to the 3000's public software treasure trove posed a question whose answer might link boardroom investigations with the 3000's history. " It raises questions about how long they've been doing things like this, and to whom. During the broker scandal?"
HP is entitled to protect its property, intellectual and otherwise, through legal means. Our stories from 1999 and 2000 showed a heavy-handed, ruthless investigation process, conducted by third parties from law enforcement agencies outside their jurisdictions. People were jailed. Now that outcome looks like a prospect for HP's employees, if the indictments lead to convictions.
In an echo of comments from Washington DC about the Rep. Foley page sex investigations, some 3000 community members say these indictments are political. The California AG is running for office with his election in five weeks' time. Politics is a common scapegoat in investigations of poor judgement. If anybody can be said to have dragged this mess into the open, it's former HP board member Tom Perkins, who told HP if they didn't go public about why he resigned he would, including news of the pretexting hoax.
HP still has the capability to bring good leadership to its board. Perkins is proof enough of that. Keeping the good directors in chairs, and making aware that HP still knows how to do the right thing in solving a problem — well, that's what CEO Hurd faces over the next few years, a time when 3000 customers will be sizing up which vendor to choose as their trusted advisor.
The board-authorized misconduct, aimed at individuals while top HP executives say they were in the dark, is an example of what makes homesteading 3000 customers cling tighter to the calamity of seeing their vendor cut out the 3000 from its future. A vendor can get too big for a niche community, or too busy to police its own security. Customers who make a transition want a vendor to trust, a quality that demands focus, even from a large organization.