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Philly CIO Under Scrutiny

The ethics board for the city of Philadelphia is looking into the circumstances of the departure of CIO Dianah Neff, who earlier this week announced she would be leaving city government to work for Atlanta-based consulting firm Civitium LLC . (See Wireless Philly Loses Head.)

The company received two contracts from Wireless Philadelphia, which Neff heads, totaling $300,000, according to Mayor John F. Street's acting director of communications, Joe Grace.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the administration has asked the city Board of Ethics to review this matter to ensure compliance with every applicable city and state ethics law," Grace said in a statement today. The city's ethics board is appointed by the mayor, who hired Neff as CIO in 2001.

Neff, who shepherded the controversial Philadelphia municipal wireless network project through political and business opposition, is leaving Sept. 8 to join Civitium, which advises local and national governments on wireless networking issues. She will head the Georgia firm's international clients division.

"The mayor's office, just wanting to be cautious, has asked the board of ethics to review this matter to ensure I'm in compliance with the city and state ethics laws," says Neff. "I believe I am."

"The law just says I'm barred from lobbying and doing additional business with the city for one year -- which is not a problem since I'm going to be doing international business."

Neff adds that the two contracts Civitium worked on for Wireless Philadelphia were to help with the business plan for the city's wireless network and to do a radio-frequency analysis. Civitium has not worked for the city of Philadelphia in more than a year, she says.

"When we started the project in 2004 there were no consultants for municipal wireless outside of two companies, and Civitium had the most experience," Neff states. "Hiring them was the smart thing for the city to do."

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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