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For the public good, or just out of a job?
April 25, 2007 8:46 AM   Subscribe

25 y.o. whistle-blower. Last Fall, a 24 y.o. by the name of Justen Deal, blew the whistle on what he perceived to be profligate waste by his employers. As an IT guy at Kaiser-Permanente, he'd seen a $442 million database project scrapped by the new CEO and replaced by a sweetheart deal for one of the CEO's former contractors. Internal estimates placed Kaiser's losses on this new contract at $1.2 billion dollars per quarter [more inside]
posted by vhsiv (74 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Smelling a fish in the works, Deal did some on-the-job research and compiled a record of 772 pages documenting the problems the IT folks at Kaiser had encountered with the work of the new, CEO-selected contractor.< !--more-->

In November, he sent a mass e-mail to 180,000 Kaiser employees addressing the matter. Almost immediately, he was placed on administrative leave, to finally be fired this past January.

Reading various accounts of this debacle in the Wall Street Journal and various Healthcare sites around the web, I can't help but wonder about the inherent analogy to contracts issued to fight the so-called 'War on Terror'.

But since the WSJ is still reporting on this and one of the senior IT admins at Kaiser has resigned, Deal's act has its effect. For me, I suppose this just boils down to an ethical question – at what age does 'blowing the whistle' and losing one's job outstrip the public good – Age 25? 30? 45?50? Discuss.
posted by vhsiv at 8:47 AM on April 25, 2007


Discuss.

Am I the only one who finds this irritating?
posted by IronLizard at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Maybe get over it, IronLizard?

I'm assuming at 25 he has no children, no mortgage, etc to worry about. He has plenty of time to rebuild his life. Age 45? Not so much.
posted by spicynuts at 8:54 AM on April 25, 2007


No, IronLizard, you're not.

It's an interesting post as far as newsfilter posts go--but it crossed over to annoying when the OP decided to editorialize it. GYOB and all that.
posted by dobbs at 8:56 AM on April 25, 2007


Thanks!
On Monday, Mr. Halvorson sent his own Kaiser-wide email dismissing Mr. Deal's note as "an unfortunate combination of partial facts, old data, incomplete data, 'conspiracy' thinking, and naiveté."
posted by acro at 8:57 AM on April 25, 2007


spicynuts: I think perhaps IronLizard is suggesting that the article and story are interesting enough without editorializing and question-prompting. I can't help but wonder if IronLizard is suggesting that a post full of rhetorical questions based on recent news events should best be contained to one's OFBlog. Or whether it is just simply distracting to include such editorializing in a post? Discuss.
posted by billysumday at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2007


> IronLizard: Am I the only one who finds this [throwing 'discuss' as the last word in a post'] irritating?

No.
posted by jperkins at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2007


The article says he's 22- in the first sentence.

To bad you have to log in to read the entire text of the emails. Based on the blurb, the response from Halvorson sounds like a triumph of arrogance.
posted by mkultra at 9:02 AM on April 25, 2007


Just because they spent $445 million on the database dosn't mean it actually worked. It may just be they decided to replace a system that wasn't working very well with one they thought might. Large computer systems like this never really work properly, or the way you'd like.
posted by delmoi at 9:04 AM on April 25, 2007


Discuss.

No.
posted by Malor at 9:05 AM on April 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


If Deal was doing simply an ethnic move, it would probably hurt him if he wanted to stay in the corporate world, but since he seems to hold the waste of money as the primary concern, I think he might do okay.
posted by bhouston at 9:06 AM on April 25, 2007


If Deal was doing simply an ethnic move

You forgot the [NOT RACIST].
posted by IronLizard at 9:09 AM on April 25, 2007


If Deal was doing simply an ethnic move

What, like trying to change his racial background? ;-)
posted by ericb at 9:11 AM on April 25, 2007


Deal or no Deal. Discuss.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:13 AM on April 25, 2007


So can just anyone at this company e-mail the 180,000-strong mailing list? Could I maybe just e-mail bulkmail@kaiserwhatever if I knew the address?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:14 AM on April 25, 2007


I wonder if the guy had his parents, or someone, short stock in the company just before he did this.
posted by IronLizard at 9:16 AM on April 25, 2007


"ethnic move" --> "ethical move"
posted by bhouston at 9:17 AM on April 25, 2007


"ethnic move" --> "ethical move"

We know. I think we were kind of hoping it was a reference to some kind of exotic dance, though.
posted by IronLizard at 9:20 AM on April 25, 2007


Can't seem to find the ticker symbol for this, is it even a publicly traded company or did they change names?
posted by IronLizard at 9:27 AM on April 25, 2007


When the CEO is "in on it", who exactly are you blowing the whistle for? He wasn't revealing some secret smoke-filled room deal that he was privy to, he was disagreeing with a decision made by the executive and well-known to hundreds or thousands of appropriate employees.

I did something like this once, except I only emailed about 12 people and instead of getting fired I chose to stay home and drink cheap whiskey until everyone just assumed I had quit. I never got a word of thanks or press for my valiant efforts.
posted by Bokononist at 9:29 AM on April 25, 2007


I don't find the "discuss" nearly as annoying as the thread derail. It's poor style but the post is an interesting case.

Instead of emailing all the employees he should have presented his findings to the board. If they did nothing he should have leaked it to some major shareholders.

Then the shareholders could have investigated the claims and made an informed decision whether to keep their money in a company with that style of management
posted by srboisvert at 9:31 AM on April 25, 2007


Can't seem to find the ticker symbol for this, is it even a publicly traded company or did they change names?

They're a "not for profit" organization.
posted by octothorpe at 9:32 AM on April 25, 2007


Yes, certainly smarter ways to go about this in terms of CYA.
posted by spicynuts at 9:33 AM on April 25, 2007


'Discuss.' – IMMO, It's both newsfilter and an ethical matter for the ombudsmen among us to ponder. In the many articles I found after a quick Google of the guy's name, there were many people saying that Deal's career-stake in Kaiser was small enough that he could throw caution to the wind.

At the same time, he had established something of a Kaiser Evangelist identity on the interweb, by making numerous pro-Kaiser edits to the Kaiser article on Wikipedia.

Part of my thinking on this was that I've worked in organizations where self-dealing administrators had slowed up the effectiveness of the organization, though the issue was retirement rather than payola. My other thought was that there's a definite pre-30, mid-30 and post-30 mindset to be considered here.
posted by vhsiv at 9:36 AM on April 25, 2007


I wonder if the guy had his parents, or someone, short stock in the company just before he did this.

KP is a non-profit and is therefor not publicly traded.

My partner works at a middle-sized non-profit where it is easy to email the entire institution with one's grudges and gripes. Not coincidentally, employees have left in large numbers lately, which makes me wonder if the organization can survive — and by extension, if KP has some underlying systemic problems beyond this sweetheart deal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:42 AM on April 25, 2007


Instead of emailing all the employees he should have presented his findings to the board.

From the WSJ article:
"He sent the missive to the company's chief compliance officer as well as to each of Kaiser's board members.

A company investigation ensued. Kaiser's assistant general counsel sent Mr. Deal a letter saying that 'a thorough investigation' found no evidence of misconduct by the executives, nor of a 'disastrous failure' of the HealthConnect project.

Mr. Deal wasn't satisfied. That's when he decided to send the email."
posted by ericb at 9:54 AM on April 25, 2007


Then the shareholders could have investigated the claims and made an informed decision whether to keep their money in a company with that style of management.

As octothorpe points out, Kaiser Permanente is a non-profit organization.
posted by ericb at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2007


I guess I'm failing to see the "public good." There's no shareholders and this isn't a public institution so it's not like there's any serious fraud taking place. If the CEO decided to hand over the database contract to his 5-year old niece who excels at hand painting, that's KP's problem. This guy disagreed with a mangement decision and got reamed when he emailed the entire company with his opinion.

Feels like nothing more than a Jerry Maguire "Who's with me?!" moment to me.
posted by junesix at 10:18 AM on April 25, 2007


Am I the only one who finds this irritating?

Am I the only one who finds this irritating?
posted by milarepa at 10:20 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


While KP is not a publicly-traded company, vast numbers of Californians are dependant on them for their health care. They function like an HMO, with all the related problems.
posted by Goofyy at 10:35 AM on April 25, 2007


*Am* I the only one who finds this irritating?
Am I the only one who finds *this* irritating?
posted by Jofus at 10:36 AM on April 25, 2007


So if they are an Non-Profit Corporation, the money they waste is directly being taken from the veins of children in burn wards and from the vaginas of pregnent women etc.

when non-profits waste money they hurt those they were established under law to benefit.
posted by Megafly at 10:39 AM on April 25, 2007


Am I the only one who finds this irritating?

Am I the only one who finds this irritating?

Well, if you do, then why are you doing it? Cognitive Dissonance strikes again (this will be my new sockpuppet name).

I agree with junesix, if this company is privately held, it has little to do with the public good. If the quality of health care somehow suffers from it, companies who offer it, and employees who use it, will switch.
posted by IronLizard at 10:40 AM on April 25, 2007


Metafilter: being taken from the veins of children in burn wards and from the vaginas of pregnent women
posted by IronLizard at 10:41 AM on April 25, 2007


He's lucky he got his message across, and I hope he was right, for his own posterity. Other than that, all I have to say is medical computer technology and support is one of the most overpriced scams on this earth.
posted by phaedon at 10:42 AM on April 25, 2007


I am irritating this, the only one who finds.
posted by quite unimportant at 10:44 AM on April 25, 2007


Junesix, the "public good" comes from a non-profit's special place, a place that is threatened by people behaving less than responsibly.

A non-profit is by legal definition an entinty that for one reason or another has been deemed commercially non-viable, yet neccesary and something the government should not do. Therefore, they must be publicly supported by donations or by fees. So they are working for the public good and any malfeasance is punishable by the courts.
posted by stormygrey at 11:04 AM on April 25, 2007


For the public good, or just out of a job?

Both.

Discuss.

Thank goodness you provided this catalyst to constrain the discussion within the bounds of what you wanted to see discussed. Otherwise we might have all discussed more than one aspect of this issue, or even not posted any comments at all.

All snarking aside now, I want to say that I was struck at the quality of this man's email; it does a better job of representing the issue than I've come to expect from investigative journalists these days. He may not have a future in IT any more (debatable), but he would make a fine reporter.
posted by davejay at 11:16 AM on April 25, 2007


Irritating? Discuss.
posted by moonbiter at 11:16 AM on April 25, 2007


Irritating? Discuss.

We disgust, already.
posted by IronLizard at 11:21 AM on April 25, 2007


I cuss, you cuss, we all cuss at "discuss."
posted by Krrrlson at 11:22 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


...I guess I'm failing to see the "public good." There's no shareholders and this isn't a public institution so it's not like there's any serious fraud taking place...

...if this company is privately held, it has little to do with the public good...

By definition, a nonprofit has been deemed to be an organization serving a public good. In exchange for this public service, their obligation to pay income tax gets waived. Every nonprofit organization is a taxpayer-subsidized organization. As a nonprofit they also become eligible for public subsidies in the form of grants. A nonprofit's profligate waste better be a matter of public interest. We're all its stock holders.

The number of Kaiser members nationwide is huge. If Deal is right about patient care being threatened, we'll suffer the public health costs of those people's unmet needs.

180,000 employees on the email system alone? That's a lot of workers, even without the janitors, cafeteria workers, etc. who probably don't get KP email accounts. If Deal is right about an upcoming need for layoffs, that's a lot of individuals and communities who could be affected by the loss of income, health coverage, and pensions. And lest you imagine those numbers can stay bearably small: KP is losing 1.4 Billion dollars a quarter for fuck sake, with no end in sight. How is that sustainable without deep cuts in both personnel and services? Insurance rates are regulated, so it's not like they can just quadruple premiums everywhere to make up the difference.

If you think a massive nonprofit's screwups or corruption are none of your business, go right on ignoring it. It's your investment to flush away if you want. The rest of us stakeholders will be over there, giving a damn.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:23 AM on April 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Big non-profits are terribly vulnerable to being looted by their executives; the only things really standing in the way of a cadre of executives so inclined are other executives, the board, and fear of prosecution.

If you read vhsiv's second link, you'll see that Halvorson and cohort (descending upon the fold) systematically eliminated recalcitrant executives and board members, and the threat of federal prosecution under Bush/Gonzalez is virtually zero.

It looks like a textbook case, really.
posted by jamjam at 11:37 AM on April 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Well, thanks for clearing that up. So, since a search returns little, is anything being done to address this? Who would have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute?
posted by IronLizard at 11:38 AM on April 25, 2007


These articles make it sound as if the CEO was simply trying to negotiate a sweetheart deal for a friendly corporation. That may be the case, of course, but it's important to note what Epic Systems, the software vendor in question, is and what they do. I know from a close relative who works in healthcare that Epic has developed a suite of medical records technologies and is in the course of implementing them at hospitals around the country. In essence, they are transforming the way in which charting and record keeping in hospitals and clinics takes place. In the Epic System, literally everything is electronically recorded. And a major selling point of their technology is the ability to share records between hospitals around the country. So, in theory, if I were on vacation in San Francisco and had an accident, a hospital on Epic could pull up my records from my doctor in Chicago and discover that I had an allergy to medication X.

So, maybe scrapping the inhouse database was a logical move, based on the consideration that KP would be able to share records more efficiently among their member clinics and track their clients better. In short, there may be a perfectly justifiable rationale at work here. One which is being lost in the scramble to see nefarious motives at work here.

That said, this still seems pretty creepy, given that KP is an HMO and not a health care provider, per se. The economic benefit they might hope to gain by switching to Epic could be, for example, better tracking of high risk patients. Or the eventual linking of insurance premiums to forecasts of risks based on detailed and extremely private data in patients charts. In short, there is a huge potential for abuse here. One that probably goes well beyond one CEO's choice to favor a particular contract vendor.

But look, I'm neither a doctor, a programmer, or an actuary. So I could very well be way off base here. Still, it would have been nice to have had some description, somewhere, of what Epic actually does instead of rushing into OMGENR0N!!!1! If anyone can fill in my rough sketch with actual information on Epic, this conversation would really benefit, I think.
posted by felix betachat at 11:41 AM on April 25, 2007


It's not clear to me what's at issue here.

He went through proper channels to get the issue investigated, and when he didn't get the desired result, he resorted to gross insubordination to get his point across. And he got canned... as well he should have. At the end of the day, maybe he helped a company mend its evil ways, and that's a good thing, I guess. But I doubt things will change much there even in the short term. Assuming board approval, the CEO always has the prerogative to bring in whatever consultant he likes, to replace good and or bad systems. Longer term, I'm not quite sure the impact of all this will be felt anywhere outside of his own job search.
posted by psmealey at 12:01 PM on April 25, 2007


In November, he sent a mass e-mail to 180,000 Kaiser employees addressing the matter.

Hmm. Call me weird but my general reaction to that kind of thing is to assume that the emailer is a nut with some kind of axe to grind.
posted by Artw at 12:11 PM on April 25, 2007


>>Discuss.
>
>Am I the only one who finds this irritating?

Nope.
posted by NortonDC at 12:24 PM on April 25, 2007


There are a few posts in this thread that imply that the CEO can do whatever they want. I'm not an expert in corporate law, but I'd be absolutely shocked if this was true.

I'm guessing there's some sort of law that prevents non-profits from dumping money to for-profit corporations. I'd be shocked if there were no regulations on this matter, as without such regulations it'd be trivially possible to structure a company where a large portion of it was "non-profit", with a sister "for-profit" company that would actually take the earnings when no more money was needed for R&D/cash reserves/etc.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 12:29 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


180,000... hope he BBC'd that e-mail.

Personally, I have no idea if what he did was good or not, seems like you could debate it either way. I will say, though, the kid's got balls.
posted by Talanvor at 12:32 PM on April 25, 2007


Big non-profits are terribly vulnerable to being looted by their executives

Case in point: American Red Cross.
posted by ericb at 12:35 PM on April 25, 2007


There are a few posts in this thread that imply that the CEO can do whatever they want.

Respectfully, I think you misunderstood. Generally speaking, the CEO has purview on all matters as defined by the company's by-laws and operating agreement, as well as what is done with the discretion of the board of directors. Typically, this extends to negotiating contracts with techonology and service providers, consultants, funding strategic initiatives, etc. If the related operating or capital expense is significant enough, the CEO may be required to obtain one-off board approval for it in advance and subject to ongoing oversight by the company's audit committee.
posted by psmealey at 12:42 PM on April 25, 2007


I'm a Kaiser member, and I find this fascinating, as Kaiser is very electronic right now. I have access to all of my medical records, online (that aren't older than two years, which seems to be about how far back they've been 100% electronic). That includes test results, doctor's diagnoses, ongoing medical conditions, pending appointments, etc. I can also make doctor's appointments and refill prescriptions. From what I've seen in the office, the doctor has more info: x-rays are digitized, etc.

So I'd really like to know how the system is horribly broken, so much so that it needed to be scraped and replaced.

But anyway, I think this issue boils down to one thing: can you trust the KP board of directors?

In a perfect world, you can, and this guy deserved to get fired -- he went through proper channels, got his answer, didn't like it, and then went vigilante and played CEO himself.*

In this world, it's entirely possible the board is a bunch of crooks, bought and paid for by the CEO, and the guy might be right.

I don't know what the case is, but the thought of KP hemorrhaging money like that is terrifying.

Of course, it is kind of interesting that I more or less automatically assume that an employee has no right to mass communication within his company. That's interesting. Shouldn't anyone be able to express their opinion about management decisions to fellow employees? Hmm...
posted by teece at 12:43 PM on April 25, 2007


>When the CEO is "in on it", who exactly are you blowing the whistle for?

Shareholders/donors. Discuss.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:51 PM on April 25, 2007


It appears that there was concern about Epic's HealthConnect system -- enough for outsiders to take notice:
"Soon after the email leak, ComputerWorld magazine ran a negative story about HealthConnect, based on a 722-page internal Kaiser document chronicling various problems with the system including power outages, system failures and incomplete patient records.

That article prompted the California watchdog agency that oversees managed health care to send Kaiser an inquiry letter in January about HealthConnect's reliability. The agency says now that it is monitoring the system's performance, but is satisfied that Kaiser has taken 'corrective action.'" *
Computerworld: Problems abound for Kaiser e-health records management system.

I think Justen Deal was genuinely concerned about the implementation of the system and the potential for systemic waste (of funds, resources, etc.) about which he learned when under Kaiser's employ.
posted by ericb at 12:52 PM on April 25, 2007


BTW -- here is Justen Deal's personal blog.
posted by ericb at 12:55 PM on April 25, 2007


L.A. Times: Kaiser has aches, pains going digital -- "Patients' welfare is at stake in the electronic effort, experts say."
posted by ericb at 12:58 PM on April 25, 2007


Justen Deal:
"Page one of today's Wall Street Journal has an article on the email I sent on November 3, along with a look at the events leading up to and following it.

This story was a personal struggle for me. When other reporters called, I never volunteered or confirmed my personal situation (not even my age) or history, and never really discussed, at length, the process leading up to my sending the email. I have tried to make sure I stay focussed on the failures of HealthConnect and the terrible impact it is having on patient safety.

Ultimately, I came to recognize that it was important for there to be a record, an honest one, of what transpired before and after the email. I spent months prior to November 3, trying to get the patient safety and financial issues relating to HealthConnect investigated properly. The ‘compliance’ department of Kaiser Permanente, under Daniel Garcia, failed utterly to conduct any such investigation. And our Board of Directors abdicated their most important responsibility, to protect Kaiser Permanente and our members.

In December, when Kaiser Permanente became aware that the Los Angeles Times was planning to print a front page story on HealthConnect, the tone of their communications with me changed. Individuals at the organization increasingly seemed desperate to convince me to stop cooperating with the Times. The desperation culminated in a concoction of fact and fiction regarding a list of about a dozen ‘violations of policy’ which the organization subtely hinted could be leaked to the media if necessary. I knew none of the manufactured ‘violations’ could withstand any level of scrutiny, but I also knew that our public relations folks could be highly selective about the ‘information’ they chose to release or withhold, to paint a picture just the way they wanted. (They've done it before.)

I knew this process would be difficult, but I also knew it was something I had to do. I know I have done everything I can to make sure our members have access to safe, affordable care, and I will continue to do whatever I can do to protect Kaiser Permanente. Can he say that?"
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on April 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kaiser CEO George Halvorson has come under fire before for his management style:
"Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch released a critical report of Minnesota's health care industry on Wednesday that names George Halvorson, now CEO at Kaiser Permanente.

The target is Bloomington-based HealthPartners. The audit criticized the nonprofit's actions regarding executive compensation, oversight of consultants and travel and entertainment expenses.

...The report found that the HealthPartners board had inadequate oversight of executive compensation. It also found that HealthPartners spends millions of dollars on consultants without specific controls for bidding jobs or evaluating performance.

...The most salacious details regarded HealthPartners travel and entertainment expenses. The report said HealthPartners, before adopting a new policy in July of 2002, spent money on travel and entertainment expenses in a manner that ‘does not adequately document the reasonableness, necessity and business purpose’ of such expenditures.

From 1997 to 2001, HealthPartners paid for more than 100 flights to more than 30 different international destinations, with employees traveling to six continents -- Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, Africa, and North America.

For instance, HealthPartners paid approximately $5,000 for Halvorson to take a week-long trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1999, with the only business purpose indicated as ‘an international trade mission.’"*
posted by ericb at 1:07 PM on April 25, 2007


The Thigh Master is neither a thigh nor a master. Discuss
posted by klarck at 1:55 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. Justen Deal's weblog is an amazing archive of events over at Kaiser Permanente. Including the fact that his "paid leave" has been downgraded to "unpaid", and that a number of people linked to this HealthConnect issue have been recently fired by Halvorson.

This guy has his own podcast that if you don't mind my saying, borders on megalomania. Well, ok, that was veiled attack. I hate the way he ties this into mark hurd at hp, and i really hate hellogoodbye.
posted by phaedon at 2:01 PM on April 25, 2007


"I know from a close relative who works in healthcare that Epic has developed a suite of medical records technologies and is in the course of implementing them at hospitals around the country. In essence, they are transforming the way in which charting and record keeping in hospitals and clinics takes place."

Oh, come on. They're not the only ones out there working with EMR, particularly since HIPAA came into play. I'd be interested in why Epic was chosen as opposed to another EMR provider. (GE Healthcare, for example. )
posted by Liosliath at 2:06 PM on April 25, 2007


It amazes me that some people think there is nothing wrong with wasting the company's money, giving contracts to friends (who presumably will kick some of that back) etc. No wonder the business world is awash in prosecutions due to ethical lapses.
posted by caddis at 2:21 PM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I always thought the use of "Discuss" was kind of a tongue-in-cheek suggestion. As if emulating the formulaic small-group facilitation which makes the facilitator look less than stellar. In the style of Coffee Talk.

Cliché, yes, but hardly intentionally prescriptive/proscriptive.

The thread derail, however: constructive insight or distracting metaharping? Discuss.
posted by darkstar at 2:56 PM on April 25, 2007


This post throws into stark relief a justification for extremely high executive compensation which is rarely publically given, but is very real never-the-less: they give them (that is, they give each other via interlocking directorates) all that money so they'll have no motivation to steal from the organization, since when they do steal, the damage they do far outstrips the amount they end up stealing.

Maybe one of these days we will get back to having executives who don't steal even though they could, because it would be wrong.
posted by jamjam at 2:56 PM on April 25, 2007


On Monday, Mr. Halvorson sent his own Kaiser-wide email dismissing Mr. Deal's note as "an unfortunate combination of partial facts, old data, incomplete data, 'conspiracy' thinking, and naiveté."

Am I the only one that read this part and thought, "Gee, this kid sounds like some of the people from MeFi."

/me ducks to avoid punches
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:00 PM on April 25, 2007


Respectfully, I think you misunderstood. Generally speaking, the CEO has purview on .....

Respectfully, I think you misunderstood.

NPOs fall under different regulations than for-profit organizations. Therefore nothing you have said is relevant.

My suggestion is simply that it is unlikely that NPO law allows the purposeful waste of money, to enrich others, even if those others are technically speaking, at a different (for-profit) firm.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 3:11 PM on April 25, 2007


Cool Papa Bell: No.

Metafilter: an unfortunate combination of partial facts, old data, incomplete data...
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:08 PM on April 25, 2007


Metafilter: Am I the only one who finds this irritating?
posted by Lucie at 10:30 PM on April 25, 2007


Therefore nothing you have said is relevant.

Wrong. A CEO of any company has a degree of discretion and control regardless of whether the org is for profit or NPO. Both types of orgs still have operating agreements that govern the functions of the exectuvies as well as board oversight over certain types of decisions, and to be sure, rules controlling how an outside vendor/supplier can be chosen (likely by competitive bid, or at least passing tests for conflict of interest, etc.). I'm not saying the CEO didn't try to skirt those politicies, but for the purposes of this discussion, it's not an apples to oranges comparison.

is unlikely that NPO law allows the purposeful waste of money, to enrich others, even if those others are technically speaking, at a different (for-profit) firm.

Strawman. Every organization, NPO, for profit, governmental, NGO, has rules against the purposeful waste of money to enrich others. Every decision to release funds to another firm must be accompanied by a demand for benefit in return, and the executives in charge of the execution of that must be held accountable.

You have a strange conception of how the for profit world runs, if you think it's normal for companies to enter into business entanglements with other firms to purposefully waste money and benefit other firms.
posted by psmealey at 4:10 AM on April 26, 2007


Here's some info about K-P, including its organizational structure.

I can see how a 22 year old college dropout could access sensitive documents in Kaiser's computer system, and then leak them to the media. I see where that's a big story. But I'm having a harder time seeing where that 22 year old dropout has the education or experience to understand medical database information technology and to be able to correctly evaluate the costs of these systems.

59,000 lost worker hours in a month in a system with several hundred thousand workers is pretty good uptime, for instance - but you'd never know that from the email because the email did not choose to point out the size of the userbase. The comparison of 9,000 hours lost in one month to 59,000 hours lost the subsequent month is alarming too, but no mention is made of the fact that between the two months the system was rolled out of pilot and into every Kaiser facility.

The docs I know at Kaiser are uniformly pretty pleased with the new electronic record. Where's the mention of that? I guess it's relegated to the Journal Of Uninteresting Reading.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2007


Ikkuyu2, respectfully, most doctors I know can't evaluate medical information database technology either. They simply want to know if it works, because they have better things to use those massive brains on.

The question here is why a database that was working (the prior one with IBM) was scrapped in favor of one produced by a company that the new CEO was chummy with. I'm impressed that they went live in two months, though.
posted by Liosliath at 8:31 AM on April 26, 2007


Not to mention, the whole 'and he gave the contract to one of his buddies' is also pretty meaningless. If a vendor fails at a contract, you would expect the CEO (or whomever) to go with someone they know and trust. Of course there's going to be a prior relationship. Hell, most CEO hires are about the CEO's network as much as the CEO himself.

Everything about this kid sounds pretty terrible. HIs meglomanical blog. His abuse of the term 'whistleblower.' His facts of omission, but to some people "ZOMG!! CEO sucks spends all our money!$$$$" is where the debate starts and ends.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:22 PM on April 26, 2007


most doctors I know can't evaluate medical information database technology either. They simply want to know if it works

Yes, clearly we doctors aren't up to date on the most modern metrics of success.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:43 AM on May 6, 2007


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