Playing Peek-A-Boo With Departing NIGP President Donald Buffum by Jon Hansen

Posted on June 6, 2015


“Finally, and I speak for the entire board when I say this, we are wonderfully blessed to have a great CEO in Rick Grimm and a fantastic support team in Herndon. They continue to support all of us on a daily basis and we, in turn, support and believe in Rick and the rest of our team. They continue to do great things supporting our members, chapters and volunteers as we all strive to Develop, Support and Promote the Public Purchasing Profession.” – May 18th, 2015 State of the Union – NIGP Board President, Donald Buffam

My soon to be 5 year old son has an interesting way of playing hide and seek.

Rather than run in search of the perfect hiding place when I begin counting, he simply stands a few feet away from me and covers his eyes with his hands. His reasoning is that if he can’t see me, then I can’t see him.

It is a very cute notion . . . for a 5 year old.

However, and based upon the State of the Union address by departing NIGP President Donald Buffum, covering one’s eyes to the obvious problems brought about by the #CodeGate scandal, loses some of that innocent charm in a grown-up world.

But should we be surprised by Buffum’s State of Denial?

After all, this is the same Donald Buffum who, when asked “what role did you play in terms of approving Rick Grimm’s compensation?”, answered “Given what I have read in your coverage, I would rather not respond at this time.”  As a side note, his silence was not the result of a disagreement with the facts of the story – neither he, nor any other member of the NIGP executive has ever challenged the accuracy of the investigation’s findings. According to sources, his lack of responsiveness was based more on wanting to avoid confronting the serious questions surrounding the NIGP’s conduct – including his possible role in perpetuating a situation that is progressively moving from bad to worse.

The above notwithstanding, it is one thing to dodge the questions of someone in the media. It is an entirely different matter to remain silent while your association’s creditability is being called into question.

As the outgoing President, Buffum’s failure to address the fact that the NIGP’s reputation has been tarnished by recent media coverage, reflects the same dereliction of duty that has come to represent all that is wrong at the Herndon-based nonprofit.

Worse yet, his somewhat feeble and perfunctory endorsement of Rick Grimm demonstrates a serious lapse in judgement as it forever binds him to the reputation of the CEO. Or to put it another way, Buffum’s personal legacy will rise or fall on what happens to Grimm. Based upon all that has come to light so far, that is not a ride I would be willing to take.

In the end though, the most troubling aspect of Buffum’s final words as NIGP President, is the impact it may have have on the incoming executive group, and the NIGP membership overall.

While everyone is no doubt aware of what has transpired since the end of March, when the Missouri story first broke, his continuing silence does raise serious questions.

For example, if I were an existing member, I would wonder why the coverage regarding #CodeGate has not been challenged. Especially given Grimm’s poor showing in terms of his previous comments in this blog. By saying nothing is tantamount to a public acknowledgement regarding the veracity of what has been reported to date.

Of course, and in all fairness to Buffum, given how Grimm bumbled and stumbled when confronted with the facts regarding the contradictions in his statements, perhaps remaining silent is the only option for someone being asked to defend the indefensible.

At the end of the day, when you can’t run and hide from the truth, perhaps the only option is to simply cover one’s face and wait for the game – or in this case Presidential term, to mercifully end.

Seeing beyond your challenges

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