Colbert Steps Down In December

1999 Pigford v. Veneman settlement, which ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against black farmers.

Earlier this year, Department of Justice attorney Michael Sitcov was investigated for working on the case with a suspended law license for two years. In late 2004, officials learned that Margaret O’Shea, a former DOJ lawyer, didn’t hold a law license when she handled settlement claims for the case.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) have led a series of hearings to investigate the allegations that claims were unfairly denied by the DOJ and that more than 60,000 black farmers were shut out of the settlement for filing late claims. A legal effort to reopen the settlement was dismissed by a federal judge in January.

A $13.5 billion merger between Symantec Corp. and VERITAS Software Corp. makes the data storage and security software company the fifth largest in the world. John W. Thompson, Symantec’s chief executive and last year’s BLACK ENTERPRISE Corporate Executive of the Year, serves as the head of the combined company as well as chairman of the company’s board of directors.

The merger was met with a significant amount of criticism, as many experts question how the two companies, which have different strategies and operate in different markets, will work together. “Our belief is that as we bring our two teams together, we’re not going to ask you to sacrifice the capabilities of either company,” Thompson said in a statement.

Thompson also sits on the board of directors of UPS, NiSource Inc., and Seagate. –Erinn R. Johnson

RS Information Systems Inc. (No. 12 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $321 million in sales) has added the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the Treasury Department to its list of about 100 federal information technology contracts. For five years, the Virginia-based company will provide network engineering, software development, high-end systems integration, help desk, and other technology services to TTB for $49.4 million.

“We chose RSIS because of their superb past performance coupled with their highly skilled and motivated staff,” says Mike Borland, assistant chief information officer for infrastructure for the TTB.

With 100% of the firm’s revenues coming from government contracts, Rodney Hunt, RSIS president and CEO, predicts that earnings could reach $375 million in 2005. TTB, established as a part of the 2002 Homeland Security Act, collects taxes and enforces regulations related to the production, labeling, advertising, and marketing of alcohol and tobacco. –Janelle A. Williams