Weber State involved in lecture capture purchasing probe

“Recognizing that there was an issue that he was concerned about, the university actually took the step of canceling the RFP to review his concerns,” said Kowalewski. “Prior to us even being able to conduct an internal review, [Packer] then filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office.”

Packer defended his actions, saying: “In my view, it’s crystal clear that at least unethical and unfair behavior has occurred. If you can find someone on the inside and convince them to write specifications that favor your product, then that’s when this anti-competitive [behavior] starts to rear its ugly head.”

He believes that’s what occurred between Sonic Foundry and information technology staff at Weber State.

Packer claims he encountered a former Sonic Foundry staff member at a trade show who told him that his past employer frequently used kill points in order to wipe out competing products.

“I suspect that some IT people … may fall into this hardly understanding that they’re violating the law. I would suspect most of them know damn well what they’re doing,” Packer said.

But Kowalewski stressed that Packer never gave the university a chance to conduct an internal investigation.

“Mr. Packer took his issue to the attorney general’s office so quickly [that] we were never in a position to review his concerns at the university level,” he said, noting that the university did take action.

“As a result of canceling the RFP, we wound up not purchasing a product and, in fact, at the time the cancellation occurred, we had not even received a single bid for the lecture capture product that we were putting out a request for proposals on,” Kowalewski said.

Packer also said the investigation has been delayed by Weber State’s unwillingness to produce documents, but Kowalewski said the university has been fully compliant with all orders.

“We’ve complied fully with the attorney general’s investigation, and we’ve provided them with upwards of 5,000 documents that they requested,” Kowalewski said. Attempts to contact the attorney general’s office directly were unsuccessful.

Attorneys for Weber State had applied for a secrecy order and had argued that the case should not be made public, as it “poses a threat of irreversible damage to the reputations of the public employees … and the private individuals and firms.” However, that order was reversed after Packer filed a brief requesting a review of how the secrecy order was drawn.

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