Paul Cosgrave, the little-known commissioner of the little-known New York City Department of Information Technology (they make the city’s computers run, and oversee infotech operations like 311), has been given an official warning by the city’s Conflict of Interest Board: Stop inviting the department’s business contacts to fundraising dinners and golf outings in Florida.*
As a member of the board of directors of a non-profit (unnamed in the city’s warning letter), Cosgrave sent personal invites for a Florida golf and dinner outing (at which he was also a keynote speaker) to some individuals who do business with his department. While this doesn’t prove wrongdoing, it could give people with less faith in government officials than ourselves the impression that the personal-invitees (some of whom make lots of money selling computers and software to the city) have special access to the commissioner.
Since the letter, Cosgrave has recused himself from awarding contracts, but as the head of the agency he still has the ability to influence contract decisions.
In an interview last year, Cosgrave told Public CIO that “his philosophy as a CIO is simple. ‘It’s about people and processes. Technology is last. Dealing with people is paramount.'”
*Update: Spelling of Cosgrave’s name corrected. Also, Nicholas Sbordone, Director of External Affairs for the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, writes: “Please note that the Commissioner did not send any invitations for the Florida golf and dinner outing; rather, he provided a list of his various contacts to the staff of a non-profit on whose board he serves, with the non-profit then sending targeted invites — as is described in the first paragraph of the Conflicts of Interest Board letter you cite.”