Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Computer Sciences Corporation torture link challenges Norway's ethical reputation

It has recently been reported that CSC personnel may have been actively involved in the support of the USA's secret flights of rendition involving torture of innocent people.
This post, see following link, from Reprieve has more on the subject from a Norwegian perspective.

http://www.reprieve.org.uk/blog/2012_05_17_norway_csc_investor_rendition/

No further comment from us is needed. Although current and past CSC employees in Norway may want to say something as through no fault of their own they may be implicated. For instance some may have in good faith signed Norwegian government documents or have made statements stating that CSC was acting ethically when it may not have been.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Mike Lawrie talks straight about CSC’s “unacceptable” Q4 FY2012 results and outlines his action plan.

CSC discussed its final Q4 and FY2012 results at an Analyst conference call on 17 May, following on from the publication of its Q4 estimates published on 11 April.  

Its final Q4 FY2012 EPS was a loss of $1.02c per share, compared with expectations of a profit of about $0.20c per share, thus failing to meet analysts’ and CSC’s own estimate.  This was attributed to unspecified “additional charges” which did not change the overall grim picture.  CSC has some key debt repayments due later this year, so it is vital that the hemorrhaging stop. It is also worth noting that, even after all the write-offs in FY2012,   the value of the intangible assets on CSC’s balance sheet is greater than the company’s total equity.  This is not a healthy situation.

Mike Lawrie, President and CEO, described the results as “unacceptable” and spent little time repeating the details. He preferred to talk about what he has learned in his initial 2 months at CSC and what he plans to do about it.  Once more, he gave the impression of straight talking.  It is easy to talk about problems and unacceptable situations when they have all been inherited and one can blame one’s predecessor for them. But Lawrie’ s handling of the Q&A session with the analysts showed an openness which we are not used to with CSC.

Below are some highlights of what Mike Lawrie said, with our comments in italics:


·         He intends to take $1billion out of the cost base over the next 12-18 months, primarily from overheads such as G&A expense. He expects some 2000 lay-offs, but said they will not be significant in client-facing roles. It was not clear if the planned 630 person redundancy plan in UK is part of this 2000 or in addition.
·         There will be major changes in top management positions in the coming weeks and months. Good news. The right decisions re which top executives are removed will help consolidate Mike Lawrie’s credibility with the workforce.
·         There will be disposals and sell-offs of non-core assets, but there will be no sales of entire segments. This may cause revenue shrinkage in the short-term.   This is sensible and will help the cash situation. While Mike Lawrie implied that there will be no sell-off of entire segments (eg the US Government business, or Europe as a whole), it does beg the question of the future of CSC operations in small European countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal etc.
·         The operating model is overly complex with unclear accountabilities. This will be simplified and clarified. This has been a problem for 10 years. There are major differences between the model as defined by Corporate and the reality in practice. Most client-facing staff can give examples of major business lost because of internal infighting between different CSC operating units arguing about who owns or who has authority over what. Whether a simplified and clarified model will work or not will depend on Mike Lawrie’s willingness to force its implementation.  Mike Laphen backed down or figuratively” looked the other way”  when faced with opposition to the operating model  from local barons determined to retain total control of everything that happened in their territory, while blaming other parts of CSC for anything that went wrong.
·         Need to leverage CSC’s intellectual property and software assets.  Long overdue and a key reason CSC is an also-ran in many areas of BPO despite having the software to be a leader.  CSC needs to ensure its consultants are motivated to leverage software sales by identifying opportunities and working together with the product experts rather than converting major software license opportunities into small consulting engagements.
·         A review has highlighted 40 large non-performing projects, the majority being in the MSS (Outsourcing, managed services) sector.  The underlying causes are management failures, project management shortcomings, poor contracting and lack of coordination and hand-offs within various CSC teams involved in the projects . A new systems assurance process has been put in place to address these, with emphasis on scope and pricing disciplines prior to contract signature.    Again, long overdue. CSC needs to get away from its long sequence of hierarchical reviews.  It needs one joined-up bid review and systems assurance process encompassing all necessary parts of the company. Selling teams and project managers spend too much time preparing for a myriad of uncoordinated and disjointed internal reviews, are given revenue and cost “challenges” from all levels of the organization, then get blamed when things inevitably go wrong.  Mike Lawrie would learn a lot if he had someone quantify all the “challenges” embedded in the bid models of a few major projects, then ask what management plans were in place to achieve them, who was accountable for achieving these “challenges”, and what the final outcome was.  A big question has to be asked of previousd management. How come they did report these 40 under performing projects when Delivery Assurance (the operational audit arm) was obviouly reporting the continuing failure. You can bet that the lawyers involved in the Clas Action suits will have a field day with this information.
·         CSC will transition from what Mike Lawrie called a “Holding company” approach to an “Operating company” environment.  He explained that “things just sort of roll up and you report what has, in fact, happened (in a holding company). The big transition that we're making is moving to an operating company. And an operating company looks for what the anticipated results are going to be and then operates and tries to change the outcome through management actions and other disciplined processes that are installed.  Mike Mancuso said that a major issue over the past years was that by the time Corporate became aware of problems, they had already escalated into major crises.   Again, this makes sense, but it will need a mind-set change in Corporate too. It needs to be done instead of, not in addition to, the interminable detailed historical numbers reviews CSC staff have suffered for years. Corporate executives need to be proactively available to play their part at the right time and assume responsibility for the consequences of their decisions.  No more hiding from their responsibilities by being unavailable when needed, by leaving the field managers to make key decisions alone, then distancing themselves from the field manager and the decisions if things go wrong.


Mike Lawrie did well on this analyst call. He explained the issues and his plans in easily understandable business terms, with examples to show that he does look behind the numbers, which is another welcome change in CSC.  He gave examples of “diamonds” he had found in the organization.  However, I was disappointed he did not reference the retention of CSC’s top employees.  Cancellation of bonuses which people believe they have earned and zero pay increases are not motivating messages. Lawrie needs to put in place a retention program for the key performers.  There is a big demand for critical IT skills in the markets and our correspondents have told us that CSC’s  good people are getting plenty of offers from outside.  CSC needs to get them to actively want to stay with the company.

All told, Mike Lawrie’s message is not a happy picture for shareholders or for employees.  His candor came as welcome change from the bullshit we have been fed in the past. Right now, he is in the fortunate position of being able to lay all the problems on Mike Laphen’s doorstep.  We have to hope that Mike Lawrie is not feeding us more bullshit and that his execution will match his words and plans. .




Tuesday, 15 May 2012

CSC announces Paul Saleh’s as CFO and files details of his compensation package

CSC has appointed Paul Saleh as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), effective May 23, 2012 taking over from Michael Mancuso who will retire.

He was previously CFO of Gannett, a newspaper group, having earlier worked for Sprint Nextel, Walt Disney and Honeywell.  His employment agreement was filed with the SEC on 14 May 2012. Here are some key elements of his compensation package:

·         His base salary is US$750,000 pa, to be reviewed annually.

·         His on-target annual bonus is 100% of his base salary ($750,000).

·         Grant of an “Annual equity” share award with a value of US$2.8million per year for 3 years.   

·         Grant of  an Inducement share award (a “Golden Hello”)  of 35,000 shares vesting in May 2015.  At a current price of $26.50 per share the value of the shares covered by this agreement would be about US$925,000.   

·         An unspecified number of Career Shares vesting in May 2017.

·         Various provisions regarding termination of employment, change of control of CSC , confidentiality agreements, etc.

Further details of this SEC filing can be found on: http://biz.yahoo.com/e/120514/csc8-k.html

CSC’s announcement of  Paul Saleh’s joining them can be found on:  http://finance.yahoo.com/news/csc-names-paul-saleh-vice-130000591.html

CSC CEO Mike Lawrie describes Saleh as  “exactly what we had in mind when we set out to find a new CFO”.  We shall find out over time what this means. 

We had similar praise in the announcement of Mike Mancuso joining CSC in 2008 and look at the legacy he has left; significant accounting irregularities, an Audit Committee investigation, the need to restate prior periods’ financial statements, inability to certify to the SEC that the financial statements could be relied upon for a period of time, multiple profit warnings, significant and unexpected write-offs, major shortcomings in project control, shareholder class-action lawsuits, an SEC investigation and massive operating losses.

It seems as if what Mancuso brought to CSC was too much “Laphen compatibility” and a complete absence of self-doubt.  His departure is at least two years overdue and a change of approach is needed.

Paul Saleh is an unknown quantity, and it is not clear how relevant his previous industry experience is to a struggling IT Services company.  It looks like CSC placed finance function skills above IT industry knowledge in the requirements for the job. This makes sense given the doubts about CSC’s finance function’s fitness for purpose today.  

Even if Paul Saleh is not the superman CSC’s announcement suggests, he must surely be an improvement on Mancuso.  We hope that Saleh will challenge Mike Lawrie  if and when it is needed.  CSC has suffered for too long from an all-powerful CEO who tolerated no disagreement, and whom nobody seemed to dare question.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Interesting comments about CSC from Computing Magazine

These comments from Computing Magazine say much about what has been going on in CSC. They refer to obfusaction around job reductions in the UK.
An extract follows:-

Martyn Hart, chair of the National Outsourcing Association (NOA), must rue the day he added his voice to the shouting match over CSC’s UK job cuts. First, he appeared to suggest that he thought the layoffs were a good thing. Several days later – after the fuss had died down – Hart said that, no, he didn’t think the cuts were a good thing after all: that was outrageous media spin.

.............Consider the evidence: the MoD's about to hand CSC £400m to look after squaddies' pensions and personnel files. Does that sound like an unhappy customer to you? OK, so the MoD deal is worth four times the cap on government IT spending. And, OK, so CSC has never signed Francis Maude's Memorandum of Understanding – unlike every other major supplier to the government. And, OK, Parliament's Public Accounts Committee said CSC shouldn't work for the government. And, OK, CSC wanted to do one third of the NHS Lorenzo work for two thirds of the original cost, doubling the cost of the remaining work. And, OK, NHS negotiations remain stalled, But, you know, details, details... It's not like it's an outrage or anything....................
.

The full post in all its sarcastic glory is here:-
Read more: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/backbytes-blog/2173539/heart-hart#ixzz1uPjMXfhn
 or
http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/backbytes-blog/2173539/heart-hart

CSC makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. Yet again.


CSC can’t keep themselves out of the news headlines in the UK these days.  This time the allegations concern facilitating torture.

Below are extracts from an article run in the Guardian on May 6 2012

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), (..) is accused of helping to organise covert US government flights of terror suspects to Guantanamo Bay and other clandestine "black sites" around the world.

Reprieve, the legal human rights charity run by the British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, alleges that during the flights, suspects – some of whom were later proved innocent – were "stripped, dressed in a diaper and tracksuit, goggles and earphones, and had their hands and feet shackled". Once delivered to the clandestine locations, they were subjected to beatings and sleep deprivation and forced into stress positions, a report from the International Committee of the Red Cross says.

CSC (…) has refused to comment on claims it was involved in rendition. It has also refused to sign a Reprieve pledge to "never knowingly facilitate torture" in the future……………….

…CSC's alleged involvement with rendition came about after it purchased DynCorp, which was involved in hundreds of prisoner transfer flights, in 2003. While CSC went on to sell DynCorp in 2005, Reprieve alleges that CSC continued to be involved in the supervision of rendition flights until the end of 2006………..

Reprieve's legal director, Cori Crider, said: "CSC evidently thinks it's fine to profit from kidnap and torture as long as their shareholders are happy…..”

The full article can be found on




There have been allegations in the past about unsavoury activities of CSC’s DynCorp subsidiary, but Reprieve now claims  that CSC continued  its involvement with rendition flights after having sold DynCorp. Equally disturbing is CSC’s refusal to sign a pledge to “never knowingly facilitate torture” in the future.

Mike Lawrie expected to inherit financial performance issues when he took over as CSC’s Chief Executive.  He probably did not expect to get embroiled in allegations that CSC has facilitated torture.
Let us hope this is untrue as many CSC employees will feel tainted by what has been going on.

posted by Littlejohn