The state’s former head of administration and finance told a federal jury today that she signed what turned out to be a questionable, multimillion-dollar contract with a Burlington software company in 2007 in hopes of mending relations between the Patrick administration and then-House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.
“I would have sought legal advice for what other steps I could take,” Kirwan told jurors.
Also today, the court put Governor Deval Patrick on the schedule to testify Friday.
During her testimony, Kirwan said she asked the state inspector general to investigate the awarding of the contract after a competing vendor complained of the bidding process. The contract was ultimately voided, and IBM, which eventually bought Cognos, refunded the $13 million to the state.
The state never received the type of software that DiMasi had lobbied hard for, said Kirwan, who left her post in October 2009 for an administrative job at Harvard University – four months after DiMasi and his associates were indicted for the alleged scheme.
Prosecutors used Kirwan’s testimony to bolster their assertions that DiMasi essentially co-opted Kirwan’s support by flexing his political power as House speaker to convince her to back the Cognos deal.
The former top Cabinet secretary said that once she signed the contract, “I expressed the hope that the speaker would be satisfied with the outcome, and that that would help with another matter that we were concerned with.” The other matter, regarding disagreements with DiMasi, was not related to the contract.
DiMasi and his associates Richard Vitale, a financial adviser, and Richard McDonough, a lobbyist, face public corruption charges including conspiracy, honest services fraud, and mail and wire fraud for using the speaker’s office to steer two contracts totaling $17.5 million toward Cognos in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret payments.
The state signed a $4.5 million deal with Cognos for Department of Education software in 2006, and the $13 million contract signed by Kirwan was for a statewide “enterprise” license allowing for open use of Cognos business intelligence and performance management software.
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