There’s nothing unusual about a CEO fighting to save his company or agency, but the manner in which the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp.’s CEO is going about that task may offer some telling insight on both the agency and its leadership.
Alluding to the wrongdoing of others and refusing to provide facts to back up his claims doesn’t build the credibility of Tracy Taylor, president and CEO of KTEC, but that appears to be the strategy Taylor has chosen to fight Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ veto of KTEC funding for the coming year. The tactic seems to confirm a pattern of secrecy and information-control that a recent evaluation also observed in Taylor’s dealings with KTEC and its board.
Thomas P. Miller and Associates, which was hired by Kansas Inc. to conduct an assessment of KTEC, released a report last week recommending that the agency be retained but noting some needed changes in its operations. Among the report’s findings was that, despite the millions of dollars Kansas has poured into KTEC, the state still ranks in the bottom quarter of many technology-based rankings. The report also noted that KTEC and its leaders seem to spend an inordinate amount of time promoting themselves and that some of those interviewed described KTEC as a “black box” when it came to providing information about funding.
After the Miller report was released last week, Taylor said it contained “substantial factual errors,” but he didn’t elaborate on those errors. This week, it comes to light that Taylor, while the Miller firm was conducting its KTEC study, accused the firm of improper business solicitation. Kansas Inc. has determined there was no wrongdoing, and Taylor didn’t return phone calls seeking comment on the issue. If he has evidence or facts to support his claims, he should produce them rather than just accusing by innuendo.
In a prepared statement, Taylor said he would discuss the report’s “factual errors” with legislators, who may try to override Sebelius’ veto of KTEC funds. Speaking in private, where he can spin information without having it held up to public scrutiny, seems to be Taylor’s preferred mode of communication. Even KTEC board members told consultants they didn’t get enough details about investment issues before making decisions.
There is no doubt that Taylor’s self-promotion machine will be in high gear now and when legislators return to Topeka later this month. Lawmakers should be sure they ask the tough questions and get the whole story about KTEC, not just what Taylor wants them to hear. The governor has worked with Taylor and KTEC and feels strongly that they aren’t measuring up. If legislators are to override that decision, they had better base their votes on hard facts, not the spin of Taylor and his cronies.