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[ISN] O'Keeffe ends CISO Exchange
By David Perera
April 14, 2005
Steve O'Keeffe is halting his efforts to promote a for-profit forum
for government and private-sector chief information security officers
O'Keeffe, the principal of public relations firm O'Keeffe and Co.,
spearheaded the CISO Exchange. The effort has come under fire by
government and industry officials for appearing to sell influence over
government policy formulation.
O'Keeffe's statement comes hours after CIO Council officials announced
they would end any relations with the Exchange and establish a new,
open and accessible forum for the public and private sectors. Whether
the company will have any involvement in that new forum "is at the
discretion of the CIO Council," O'Keeffe said.
"Any organizations that have made commitments to the CISO Exchange,
whether contractual or financial, will be immediately released from
those commitments and any monies received will be returned to the
organizations," he said.
O'Keeffe officials planned to charge $75,000 to companies for full
participation in the Exchange, which would be limited to six system
integrator representatives. Other industry officials could have joined
for $25,000 or $5,000, with varying levels of access and authority
over exchange efforts.
Two companies, Computer Sciences Corp. and NetSec, committed to the
Exchange at the $75,000 level, O'Keeffe said last week.
CSC has since withdrawn from the initiative. "Any time there is a
question or a perception of buying client access, we're not going to
be involved," said Austin Yerks, CSC's president of federal sector
business development, in a statement.
The other company, NetSec, let the project's abrupt end speak for
itself. "It's our understanding that it has dissolved, so there's
nothing to withdraw from," a NetSec spokesman said, adding that the
company is disappointed that the CISO Exchange did not come to
Controversy about federal official participation in for-profit efforts
may cause some chief information officers to re-evaluate what
private-sector initiatives they are involved in, O'Keeffe said.
"There needs to be a bright line in terms of what is appropriate and
what is not appropriate in private-sector funding for activities in
which public officials are involved," O'Keeffe said.
That line is currently blurry, O'Keeffe said. "Somebody needs to
clarify," he said. "As long as there's ambiguity or room for
interpretation, then there's scope for confusion. Clearly,
public/private partnership and interaction is critical to moving the
ball forward on some of the most pressing issues."
The CISO Exchange was not an O'Keeffe and Co. effort, O'Keeffe said.
Money collected for the Exchange would have gone to O'Keeffe?s holding
company, Bonaparte Holdings, "which is used to maintain a distinct
identity to ensure there is no potential for mixing the funds," he
"From an integrity standpoint, it's very important to maintain
separate bank accounts for the organization to handle the expenses and
make sure there's absolute transparency on a matter where you have a
public/private partnership," he said.
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