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The Journal Gazette

June 19, 2016 1:00 AM

Ex-official's move raises eyebrows

Joins software firm after getting state contract

BRIAN SLODYSKO | Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS – A former Indiana Department of Education official took a job with a company involved in a $573,000 agreement he helped broker to develop a web app that tracks school data and distributes news releases for state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz’s office.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that David Galvin, Ritz’s former communications director and IT manager, took a job with N2N Services in October 2015 – two months after a $435,000 payment was requested for AT&T and N2N Services, AT&T’s software developer, in connection with the project. Galvin, who is now executive director of marketing and communications for Atlanta-based N2N Services, specifically requested the two companies be hired for the work.

Watchdogs say it’s another example of Indiana’s lacking ethics laws, which were exposed in recent years by high-profile cases involving former schools superintendent Tony Bennett, former Indiana Department of Transportation chief of staff Troy Woodruff who sold land to the agency, and state Rep. Eric Turner, who helped kill a nursing home construction ban that could have cost his family business millions.

By law, Indiana state government workers must comply with a mandatory one-year waiting period before taking a job with companies with which they helped negotiate contracts and spending agreements. Employees can seek a formal advisory opinion from the state inspector general, which clears them to take a job.

There is no record of Galvin seeking a formal advisory opinion. Instead, an email released by Ritz’s office shows he sought informal guidance. An official in the inspector general’s office advised Galvin that he could work for the company because N2N was a subcontractor for AT&T and did not directly contract with the state but suggested he seek a formal opinion “because of his extensive interaction with N2N.”

Galvin, who was paid $88,000 a year by the state, says he took the job to be closer to his significant other and claims he took a pay cut, though he declined to provide documentation.

In a statement, Ritz’s office noted the informal advice Galvin received from the inspector general’s office and emphasized that he “has no current relationship or interaction with the Department.”

When it came to the web app, Galvin requested the 2015 deal with AT&T and N2N because the companies offered marketing capabilities and a product that the state could not provide, documents obtained by AP show. Also, the documents show that education department officials signed off on the agreement, but Indiana’s Department of Administration says they did not approve the agreement.

The state Republican Party called for an ethics investigation of Ritz’s office Friday as a result of the AP’s findings.

These types of arrangements are the “reason people are cynical about government,” said Paul Helmke, a public affairs professor at Indiana University and former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne.