Tech group settles murky case with former director

IT Service Management Forum settles case involving a New Zealand blog

In 2007, the professional organisation IT Service Management Forum (ITSMF) said it has learned that its board election had been tampered with and documents accessed off its server.

The group enlisted legal counsel and eventually forensic investigators to examine whether fraudulent votes were cast and how it might have happened.

From that point on, the story got increasingly weird and murky. Comments were posted on a New Zealand-based blog The IT Skeptic that questioned the credibility of the election and the ITSMF.

The name on these posts was a "JM Linden PhD," but it turns out that this was a pseudonym used by former ITSMF executive director James Prunty, said the ITSMF.

After its internal investigation, the ITSMF filed a defamation lawsuit against US-based Prunty, alleging that he was attempting to disparage and discredit the organisation in the IT Skeptic blog post.

As part of a recent settlement with the ITSMF, Prunty signed a declaration acknowledging that he posted messages about an "emerging voting scandal" under the Linden name. He regretted any harm from it, according to the court document made available by the ITSMF. Reached by phone, Prunty declined to comment. A financial settlement was not disclosed.

Sallie Kennedy, president of the ITSMF said, "I think it puts a very ugly chapter behind and allows us to move forward in a positive way."

Before the ITSMF had filed its lawsuit, Computerworld also received, via anonymous email accounts, files of ITSMF member names and even a phone call from someone claiming to be from "Julie Linden," a call that had an odd electronic quality to it.

The distraction of the lawsuit and events leading up to it has not kept the volunteer-based ITSMF from moving ahead. It now has 8,000 members, and this month announced a certification programme in conjunction with the Institute of Certified Service Managers (ICSM).

The new certification, the Professional Recognition for IT Service Management (priSM) programme, is designed to give an added level of credibility to service management professionals.

Once the certification is established, the ITSMF will maintain a registry of priSM certified professionals that employers can use to verify qualifications.

Kennedy said the ITSMF is becoming a true professional organisation. The only thing that has hurt the organisation recently has been the economy and some job losses among volunteers. The group has been waiving member fees for some of its volunteers.

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