itSMF USA board election irregularities: the IT Skeptic unlocks the original posts

Now that itSMF USA has confirmed "clear evidence" of voting irregularities in the last Board elections, I think it is time to reveal the original postings on this blog by Dr Linden, and to make a few observations. Some readers may resent this issue taking blog space, but I feel it links in to two issues that are important to the IT Skeptic: governance of ITIL and hence ITIL's future, and the influence of vendors in an increasingly commercialised movement.

The original posts can now be found here:
Tic Tock
Serious allegations they are!
Coming soon!

According to the ComputerWeek article, 8 out of 9 names from Dr Linden's list checked out as not having voted. The itSMF USA President can say itSMF "don't think there were enough illegitimate votes to change the results of the election", but since Dr Linden claims over 100 names, and only about 500 members voted in total, I'd say the potential is there if Dr Linden really has that many.

In a previous ComputerWorld article itSMF USA said "Linden has information that could have come only via an administrative view of the ITSMF USA's systems". I don't think that is necessarily the case (though Dr Linden certainly hasn't denied it). According to Linden's post on this blog "The dbase was not technically hacked, the individual had a list of the ITSMFUSA membership which included usernames and passwords. The individual logged on to user accounts late in the evening on weekends during the election cycle and selected names that had not accessed the website for an extended period."

I'm guessing obtaining a list of members with some data that showed the inactive ones would be a much easier matter than gettign access to the voting system. I would think it would still require an inside job though, unless itSMF USA shares member lists with sponsors, mailing companies or others.
Duh! I missed the obvious. Whoever did the voting had PASSWORDS - not the kind of thing that gets freely distributed. OK so they or someone supplying them did have some serious access to the member database.

I don't know how the voting system works, but if I were perpetrating this, I would change the email address of the member I was voting with so that the confirmation emails came to me, or rather to a mailbox I had set up for the purpose, so as not to alert the real person. So I'd have the voting date/time data without actually having access to the member database.

There are two sides to this mystery. Certain inconsistencies in Dr Linden's story and style make me uncomfortable. I wonder if Dr Linden is a fabricated entity (sorry Julie, nothing personal). Which begs the question of why the accusers are remaining anonymous, a question I won't be letting go of any time soon.

I hope this issue triggers more itSMF members to pay attention to:

  • who looks out for their interests
  • who is running ITIL and how
  • whether ITIL is moving in directions beneficial to all our future careers


itSMF USA members help me out here

Duh! I missed the obvious. Whoever did the voting had PASSWORDS - not the kind of thing that gets freely distributed. OK so they did have some serious access to the member database.

Or I guess they did... itSMF USA members help me out here: I assume you needed to log in to vote??

Voting instructions...


This is the e-mail that I received (dated 18 October 2006) regarding the election.

Dear Voting Members,

Just a friendly reminder that if you haven't voted in the itSMF USA Board of Directors election yet, you have less than two weeks to do so!

Why not take a minute right now to logon to the website at and fill out the online ballot available from the Board Election page? It only takes a couple minutes and means a lot to the nominees who would like to serve on the Board of Directors.

Thank you to those of you who have already voted. Your participation is appreciated!!!

Election Committee

This communication clearly indicates that a login would be required. Now, I know for a fact that I did NOT vote. As such, I cannot confirm it. Perhaps another reader can vouch for how it actually worked when they voted. Needless to say, I am planning on following up with itSMF USA to determine whether or not my vote was actually cast. If so, it was done without my express permission/authorization.

This is sooooo disapointing I can't stand it. At this point, I wish there were another membership organization devoted to ITSM that was working on actively serving the needs and interests of the membership. I thought that itSMF USA *was* that organization. Perhaps I was wrong.

Voting Follow Up...


As I indicated I would, I did follow up with itSMF USA with a short note requesting a status as to whether I had a vote recorded in the election or not. They got back to me in a timely manner and informed me that my vote had NOT been recorded... the result I'd hoped for.


don't be too hard on itSMF

Thanks Ken
is that last remark "I wish there were another membership organization" a setup? :-D

You can look at HDI, ITIM, ITSMI, ISACA, IEEE... Did I miss any, folks?

But don't be too hard on itSMF, leastways not until we have the full story.

lots of volunteer orgs run on trust. My recent experiences with ISACA suggest that itSMF has been a bit more casual than others but historically that was part of the charm of ITIL. it is easy to see how the stakes could creep higher and higher and catch the organisation unawares when the inevitable corruption seeps in. And right now we are looking at one rogue... Who's to say this is unique to itSMF?

And why not be more disappointed with whoever scammed their way onto the board than with those who were trusting enough to let it happen?

Save being disappointed with itSMF until we see how they deal with this.

Not likely...


No, I can tell you it's definitely NOT a setup. I have enough troubles of my own, thank you very much.

Now, about being hard on itSMF USA -- by paying my dues, I have a right to be as hard as I want. At some point, I may decide to send my dollars and attention elsewhere.

Beyond discounts for pubs (which I now own), I must ask myself what I am getting for my money??? I can't say that I'm happy with the answer I can tell myself, at least right now.

I missed an obvious one

ooh I missed an obvious one: Institute of Service Management in the UK, Institute of Certified Service Managers in the USA. Not that they are exactly active organisations...

Other US & global orgs

A notable peer (and sometimes competitor) of IEEE, is Association for Computing Machinery

More practitioner-based orgs:

Society for Information Management

Association for Information Technology Professionals

More of a niche but a robust and surprisingly large organization is Data Management Association:

All have chapters in the Upper Midwest (SIM-MN appears moribund however), as well as the ITSMF. SIM and AITP have broader practitioner credibility where ITSMF remains confined to an "operational IT" perception.

Charles T. Betz



Thank you for offering some alternatives. I may decide to pursue one or more of these at some point... depends upon how much free time I can devote to checking them out. Part of the attraction of itSMF was (more or less) the focus on ITSM. I found that particularly attractive and still do. I've been an IEEE member before... not sure that I would want to renew.


What do you mean by "ITSM"?

The question is what do you mean by "focus on ITSM"? ITIL v3 makes it pretty clear that ITSM is essentially all of enterprise IT, which means that the practitioner organizations I've cited (SIM, AITP, DAMA) are "ITSM" organizations. (Even DAMA! ITIL v3 has restored Data Management as a recognized process area.)

Of course, they might all be a bit bemused to find out they've been "ITSM" organizations all along and didn't know it.

IEEE and ACM have more academic missions, but even they publish ITSM-significant material, especially in IEEE IT Professional and Communications of the ACM.

Charles T. Betz

new funky ITSM re-defining itself to cover the planet

great point! I guess I meant "ITSM as it has always been generally understood by us old blokes" as compared to "new funky ITSM re-defining itself to cover the planet"

Not all that new though

It's really not new though. If one considers *all* ITIL volumes, throughout the v1, v2, and v3 incarnations, they have all been more or less comprehensive attempts to cover the service lifecycle in large scale IT shops. It's a historical accident that their operational guidance, as represented by the reasonably coherent v2 Service Support and Service Delivery volumes, was better received than (e.g.) v2 Application Management or v1 Data Management. ITIL became equated only with the v2 SS/SD volumes (the "Red" and "Blue" books); the training and consulting ecosystem almost completely revolved around them.

In all the versions, the only things ITIL has deliberately scoped out have been project management and software engineering concerns, deferring to PRINCE2 and SSADM in those areas. (SSADM is also an OGC trademark.) And even from a software engineering perspective, ITIL is a good source of guidance on non-functional requirements.

The original v1 materials are still available, btw; here are their major sections:

Manager's set
Customer Liaison
IT Services Organisation
Managing Facilities Management
Managing Supplier Relationships
Planning and Control for IT Services
Quality Management for IT Services

Complementary guidance
Network Services Management
Business and Management Skills
ITIL Practices in Small IT Units
An Introduction to Business Continuity Management
A Guide to Business Continuity Management
IT Service Management Case Studies
Data Management

Environmental management, strategy and computer operations
Software Lifecycle Support
Testing an IT Service for Operationial Use
Cable Infrastructure Strategy
Computer Installation Acceptance
Computer Operations Management
Third Party Single Source Maintenance
Unattended Operating
Human Factor in the Office Environment
Managing a Quality Working Environment for IT Users
Office Design and Planning
Office Working Environment and IT
Accommodation Specification
Environmental Standards for Equipment Accommodation
Fire Precautions in IT Installations
Management of Electrical Interference
Secure Power Supplies
Specification and Management of a Cable Infrastructure
Maintaining a Quality Environment - Auditing & Cleaning
Management of Acoustic Noise
IT Service Delivery Tools
IT Infrastructure Support Tools

Charles T. Betz

For focus on ITSM

For focus on ITSM, see:
HDI evolving from a helpdesk-centric perspective
ITIM which is at least as vendor-heavy
ITSMI was born of a company, aims to be independent now.
ICSM or IOSM, "born of" the itSMF community

Just to add another one

take ISM in consideration: Integrated Service Management, at

ISM is a product/service - not an organization

Antonio - the ISM you refer to is not a membership organization but a product and a set of services that are proprietary and commercial in their nature. Actually, it's what I do in my commercial activities when I get tired of the complexity of what we call best practices, and when I see yet another project fail to climb the steep slopes of The Mountain of ITIL.


Yet Another Service Management Association:

AFSMI: Association For Services Management International Given that they have been around for 30 years (apparently) it is fair to say that they have grown slowly. There is a good list of international chapters, so it's not just some guy in a garage. But the Board details are not there. the only major sponsor is Oracle. the emphasis seems to be heavily on helpdesk. And they've apparently never heard of ITIL.

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