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“It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up.”

I have been following the ongoing ACBLScore+ saga pretty closely. I have some significant concerns about the way things are progressing and would like to recommend a way to move forward.

From my perspective, Hartman’s “unforgivable sin” is not screwing up the original contract negotiations with Hammond; nor even the decision to cancel the contract, write off the sunk costs, and start again at ground zero. Rather what concerns me most is what appears to be an attempt to bias the evaluation of the ACBLScore+ deliverables. In business, people make mistakes all the time. It goes with the territory. An effective management structure is able to tolerate and, at times, even reward failure. Deliberate attempts to conceal mistakes, on the other hand, are complete unacceptable. Effective management is impossible when portions of the organization are distorting the free flow of information. When you identify cases where this is taking place, you need to cut out the rot.

The ACBL has created a technology committee to recommend the best way to move forward from the ACBLScore+ debacle. While I am happy that these efforts are taking place, I worry that this is not the right group of people to exercise executive oversight of Hartman.

  • The committee is focusing on moving forward and doesn’t want to assess blame. I agree that this is the right course of action to release product. However, its not the correct course of action if one’s concern is evaluating the decisions made by management.
  • Hartman has too much representation on the committee for there to be effective oversight

Rather than creating a duplicate of the existing Technology committee, I am calling on the ACBL Board of Directors to conduct a more limited investigation into the $100K that the ACBL spent to evaluate the ACBLScore+ code base. This investigation should focus on four specific questions:

  1. Document the budget for the evaluation of the ACBLScore+ code base, with specific line items describing the hardware and the software that was used for the proof of concept.
  2. Are there gag orders in place? If so, what topics do these cover?
  3. Did the ACBL communicate with Hammond and ask him to assist in the evaluation of the code that he provided/  If not, why?  If so, why did this not happen?
  4. Does the ACBL really require copyright for the ACBLScore+ code?

From my perspective, the first three questions are simple, factual, and easy to investigate. At the same time, I believe that the answers will reveal a lot of information about the way in which things are progressing.

Item 4 is likely to be more expensive. It will require contracting the services of outside console. I believe that the money would be well spent because the question of copyright seems central to the disputes between Hammond and the ACBL and the entire question is unfathomable to me.

I am also hoping that members of the Board who are in Gatlinburg will take the opportunity to look at the code that Hammond (currently) has available.

With luck, everything is completely above board. However, at this point in time, I am suspicious enough to expect that there is something fishy going on.

I am already in communication with the ACBL Board representative for District 25 and pushing this issue. I would like to encourage the other members of Bridge Winners to reach out to their Board members and do the same. Ideally, I’d like multiple points of contact for each District.

I’ll maintain a list in this thread to track coverage. If you do contact your Board Representative, please let me know.

ACBL District

  1. Richard Willey
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