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Why Can't a Government Employee be a Microsoft Community Contributor?

    General discussion

  • On Tuesday, 28th June 2011, I received an email from Nestor Portillo, Director Community and Online Support, Microsoft informing me that I have been awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor (MCC) Award for 2011. It was a cheering news for me in more ways than one. I am a Chartered Accountant (or CPA) with no formal training in IT. I am a government employee in Nigeria where most people are barely IT literate. I am into programming out of personnal interest and because I see a great potential for future benefits in that field.

    But my joy was cut short because as I followed the steps towards printing my Certificate and redeeming my token, I was informed that government employees are not eligible for MCC award! For once, I regretted the honesty of admitting that I'm a government employee in the radiobutton provided for that. I find it too hard to understand why I am being denied this award just because I'm a government employee. If being a government employee does not disqualify one from participating in this forum, why should it disqualify one from benefitting from the token recognition of being here and sharing ideas and knowledge with others? Shouldn't Microsoft be encouraging government employees to take part in this forum knowing that public servants are the least interested in IT? For those of us in Africa, shouldn't my recognition serve as an incentive for others in government to show interest in IT? Or is Microsoft not interested in IT education and development of government employees especially in Africa?

    I forwarded a protest letter to Portillo on the 30th of June 2011 but have not received any reply two weeks later. I am using this medium to appeal to Microsoft to kindly reconsider the exclussion of government employees from its awards. I am not in any way involed with any activity that may create conflict of interest if that is the issue. I am also appealling to other forum members to join this debate with a view to reversing this patently discriminatory and obnoxious rule.

    Thank you all.

     

    Sylva Okolieaboh

    Abuja, NIGERIA

    14th July, 2011.


    Only performance counts!
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 6:19 AM

All replies

  • Sylva,

    first of all congratulations to you for receiving the award. I can`t imagine the (any) reason why government employees can`t be a Microsoft Community Contributor. You could post this question or a link to it on the MCC facbook page here: http://www.facebook.com/MCC.Award maybe you will get an answer from this team.


    Hannes

    If you have got questions about this, just ask.

    In a perfect world,
    users would never enter data in the wrong form,
    files they choose to open would always exist
    and code would never have bugs.

    C# to VB.NET: http://www.developerfusion.com/tools/convert/csharp-to-vb/
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 6:55 AM
  • Sylva

    wow, that's a bummer!

    while I don't understand the exclusion and disagree on the face of it, I will withold any judgement until MS supplies their reasoning for it. They may have a perfectly legitimate reason for doing so. And unfortunately, even if I don't agree, I have to accept that is the way it is. Each entity (company, government, etc) gets to set their own rules, for their own internal reasons, and we have to abide by them. Even as a father, my rules may be different than yours; it doesn't make either of us wrong - we just have different beliefs on how to do things.

    But that doesn't mean we can't appeal and see what happens.

    Regardless whether your award is approved or not, you have the personal knowledge and satisfaction of your accomplishment, knowing that for whatever external reasons it is denied, you have what it takes to be recognized as a valuable member of this community - even without the "official" certificate.

    I admire your dedication and motivation to learn this without any outside pressure, and your willingness to pass on to others what you have learned, to make them better.

    I hope that even if they stick by their decision, you will continue to participate in the Forums and help those with questions or problems.  You and all of us here know who the deserving ones are.

    Good luck to you in this. Keep us up-to-date with the latest.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 7:11 AM
  •  

    Thanks Hannes and jwavila.

    I will be reposting this on the facebook page as suggested by Hannes. But I know that there are enough Microsoft high-ups on this forum to address the issue. I will also like to know if there are other forum members with similiar experience as mine especially with regards to the denial of recognition/award on account of being a government employee.

    Regards.

     

    ***

    @Hannes: I visited the fb page but can't find a way to post on the wall. There goes that option.


    Only performance counts!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 8:12 AM
  • I am asking if there's anyone out there with a similar experience?
    Only performance counts!
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 12:04 PM
  • Sylva,

    i have posted the question on the facebook page.


    Hannes

    If you have got questions about this, just ask.

    In a perfect world,
    users would never enter data in the wrong form,
    files they choose to open would always exist
    and code would never have bugs.

    C# to VB.NET: http://www.developerfusion.com/tools/convert/csharp-to-vb/
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 12:24 PM
  • Hi Sylva,

    It may be seen as some sort of "potential conflict" between one government and another.

    Maybe the USA Government has asked Microsoft to some way monitor persons from other countries? Who knows?

     

    If you are denied this award or any other sort of Microsoft forum accreditation, please don't be disheartened.

    Some might say; "What is in a title or forum title"?

     

    You can still read the books that are otherwise available to read online for those of us with a MCC award.

    I doubt that your Government has banned you from reading Microsoft publications?

     

    Don't forget, keep up the good work.  :)    ;-)    Take care.    :-)    :-D

     



    Regards,

    John

    Click this link to see how to insert a picture into a forum post.

    Installing VB6 on Windows 7

    XNA is coming to VB.Net

    App Hub forums



    Thursday, July 14, 2011 12:42 PM
  • @Hannes,

    Thanks once more.

    @JAO,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I think that it is purely Microsoft policy on awards of this nature rather a targeted one at any country. From the first (or second) dialogue box for redemption of tokens/printing of certificates, it appears that all Microsoft MVPs and government employees irrespective of country are not eligible. The MVP part is fairly clear: an MCC seems lower in the pecking order to the MVP. So an MVP probably doesn't need MCC.

    But the government employee side is clearly discriminatory in my view. While we all concede the right of Microsoft or anyone else to set the rules guiding their awards, we sure deserve to know the rationale insofaras it concerns us. Like I said, if its ok for government employees to patronise Microsoft (all my software both at home and at work are Microsoft products), use and interact on this forum and other Microsoft forums(?), etc why is it wrong to reward them (government employees) with this token?

    Like most governments, the Government of Nigeria and the private sector patronise Microsoft a great deal. Microsoft regional Headquarters for West Africa is in Nigeria. Nigeria provides a large market for Microsoft. I therefore doubt that it has anything to do with US government asking Microsoft to monitor persons from other countries. But the fact remains that I am not in any way involved with any schedule that involves procurement of any type. I would have preferred that Microsoft requires persons to confirm that the award does not in any way constitute a conflict of interest in their official dealings.

    I just wish that someone from Microsoft clarifies this rule for me.


    Only performance counts!


    Thursday, July 14, 2011 3:31 PM
  • Sylva, 

    I've no answer for you. However, nobody in this forum, even not Microsoft employees talk in this forum for Microsoft about this. Al replies are as they write "as is".

    Beside what Hannes wrote is in my idea he best thing you can do to call your local office of Microsoft in Nigeria and ask for a clarification. 

    http://www.microsoft.com/worldwide/phone/contact.aspx?country=Nigeria

     


    Success
    Cor
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 4:47 PM
  • These are the English-US forums.  The US Government has strict regulations about their employees accecpting any kind of gratuity.  The regulations of your government may be different.
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 5:56 PM
  • These are the English-US forums.  The US Government has strict regulations about their employees accecpting any kind of gratuity.  The regulations of your government may be different.


    Thanks John. Perhaps, the rule about government employees applies to English/US jurisdictions. As a senior government official, I can confirm that most governments including mine do have strict rules and regulations guiding the conduct of their staff. But my country does not forbid the acceptance of an unsolicited award freely given in recognition of one's modest contributions to soceity provided it does not in any way compromise or likely to compromise the staff.

    This may be English-US forum, but I have seen tens of non-Engish/US residents here and several of them have been rewarded with MVPs and MCCs.

    Your contribution is appreciated.

    @Cor,

    Thanks a lot. I will contact Microsoft Nigeria but I doubt if they can sort it out. I will post the outcome of my call/visit ASAP. Thanks, again.


    Only performance counts!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 6:34 PM
  • Sylva,

    first of all, my congratulations. Of course, it's already good to understand that you are an awardee. But all of the awards are public, they exist to show others someone's outstanding perforamance. I'm not a lawyer, but I can understand that there are some restrictions when an employee of a company-organizer can't participate in a contest because he is able to affect somehow on the result of this contest, I mean he obviously has some unique superiority. But you, as a government employee, have the same possibilities and conditions as any other potential awardees. 

    Of course, we can discuss endlessly and nothing will change. But it will be very interesting to know the reason for this. Large companies are very careful in terms of official statements, especially which are related to legal points. There is always a not little time spent for making a correct legal official answer, especially for such a delicate situation. Wish you good luck with this and hope, at least, that the reason really makes sense.


    Andrey V Artemyev | Saint-Petersburg, Russia The new recognition system is coming, check it right now http://blogs.msdn.com/b/addeditdelete/archive/2011/06/30/forums-recognition-update-coming-july-14th-2011.aspx
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 6:59 PM
  • Thanks Andrew. I can see that you are resident in Russia and also an MCC. Like I said, no one is questioning Microsoft internal policies. We are only asking for clarifications for our education and possibly, an exemption for people like me.

    Thanks for your comments.


    Only performance counts!
    Thursday, July 14, 2011 7:46 PM
  • Congratulations Sylva!

    :)

    Friday, July 15, 2011 3:33 AM
  • Congratulations Sylva!...i definitely understand how disheartening this decision by Microsoft is.Personaly, being a Nigerian, a tech. enthusiast,and an MCC, i must admit that it takes alot for a public servant(even of a certain age group) to devote the time, energy(amongst other sacrifices, especially in a country such as ours) needed to become even close to being given such recognition as you have received,for that Sir, i say kudos.

    Leaning on the side of microsoft a bit,i want to think their decision is closely related (all beit unusual) to the decision that persons younger than 18 cannot recieve the award.

    Finally, i'd like to say i'm very proud of you sir.And intend that you find/enjoy the other numerous benefits or groups you can join and be fully recognized as an MCC.Certificate or no certificate.Cheers


    Tunde Abagun MCP,MCSA,MCTS,MCITP en p "for the love of Computers"
    Friday, July 15, 2011 6:38 AM
  • @Frank,

    Thanks. Whatever I know I learnt from great programmers like you and others on MSDN and all over the web.

     

    @Tunde,

    Wetin the shelle? Congrats, too. I can see that you are seriously into IT and also an MCC. Are you resident in Nigeria? Thanks for the nice comments.


    Only performance counts!
    Friday, July 15, 2011 7:10 AM
  • @Frank,

    Thanks. Whatever I know I learnt from great programmers like you and others on MSDN and all over the web.

     

    @Tunde,

    Wetin the shelle? Congrats, too. I can see that you are seriously into IT and also an MCC. Are you resident in Nigeria? Thanks for the nice comments.


    Only performance counts!
    Oga Sylva i deyyyyyy Sir! i'm a systems/network administrator and IT professional.Yes i'm based in Lagos Nigeria.Pleased to make your acquaintance Sir.
    Tunde Abagun MCP,MCSA,MCTS,MCITP en p "for the love of Computers"
    Friday, July 15, 2011 7:56 AM
  • Hi,

    Congratulations with your MCC Award. I've seen this before when I worked myself at the Dutch Government. At this time I earned some gifts and awards, but while I worked I could not accept any gifts or rewards.

    This had to due that a government employee cannot be bought, awarded or whatsoever. This stood in my agreement when I worked at the government. Any gifts or awards should be given to the government instead of a person. When you accept gifts or awards the government can think you've been bought by an external part.

    That's why big companies don't give any rewards or gifts to people who work for a government agency.

    Regards

    Friday, July 15, 2011 9:23 AM
  • That's why big companies don't give any rewards or gifts to people who work for a government agency.



    Or particularly, any company with government contracts.
    Friday, July 15, 2011 9:44 AM
  • Hi,

    Congratulations with your MCC Award. I've seen this before when I worked myself at the Dutch Government. At this time I earned some gifts and awards, but while I worked I could not accept any gifts or rewards.

    This had to due that a government employee cannot be bought, awarded or whatsoever. This stood in my agreement when I worked at the government. Any gifts or awards should be given to the government instead of a person. When you accept gifts or awards the government can think you've been bought by an external part.

    That's why big companies don't give any rewards or gifts to people who work for a government agency.

    Regards


    Hi, Adre. The question is whether an award earned as a result of ones voluntarily [social] activities and contributions is a reward or a gift. It is generally unethical for an employee, especially a government employee, to receive/accept gifts from companies and entities where it will create conflict on interest. My position is that an MCC is neither a gift nor a reward (in that sense) by any stretch.

    I appreciate the different views and opinion by everyone on this issue. It has assisted me in piecing things together.

    Many thanks.


    Only performance counts!
    Friday, July 15, 2011 2:15 PM
  • Greetings from the Microsoft Community Contributor Award. Regarding your question about government officials not being able to accept the MCC Award, I wanted to provide some rationale for this. In order to avoid any conflicts with Microsoft’s anti-corruption policies, we have instituted this policy.  As this is an international award currently representing over 12 distinct languages and considerably more countries there are thousands of governmental restrictions as to what gifts can/cannot be given to officials, we have chosen to not award any government officials at this time.
    Monday, July 25, 2011 9:10 PM
  •  The MVP part is fairly clear: an MCC seems lower in the pecking order to the MVP. So an MVP probably doesn't need MCC.

    I believe this is actually because MCCs are nominated by MVPs.  Still fairly clear.

    To expand on the MCC Account's comments:  I can think of several hundred reasons why government employees should not receive awards from major corporations, regardless of the government they represent and/or the corporation in question.  The biggest is that the nominator could be swayed by the promise (real or imagined) of reward from the government employee, and whether the nominator is or not the possibility that the actual presenter of the award was or could have been swayed by the presentation could cause huge problems for the presenter.

    Just imagine for a second that an employee of the US Department of Homeland Security was granted any award at all by Microsoft; how would the thousands of Microsoft customers in the middle east - including governments - view that award, and what would that award say about the company's relationship with that person, the agency he represents, and the government (more pointedly the policies of that government) that agency represents?  For that matter, how would you view it yourself?


    It never hurts to try. In a worst case scenario, you'll learn from it.
    Tuesday, July 26, 2011 12:34 AM
  • Greetings from the Microsoft Community Contributor Award. Regarding your question about government officials not being able to accept the MCC Award, I wanted to provide some rationale for this. In order to avoid any conflicts with Microsoft’s anti-corruption policies, we have instituted this policy.  As this is an international award currently representing over 12 distinct languages and considerably more countries there are thousands of governmental restrictions as to what gifts can/cannot be given to officials, we have chosen to not award any government officials at this time.

    Hi ALL,

    Well there you have it, the answer from some person(s) at Microsoft.

    If a forum moderator can change the thread type to question, I would also say, can you mark the above reply as answer please?



    Regards,

    John

    Click this link to see how to insert a picture into a forum post.

    Installing VB6 on Windows 7

    XNA is coming to VB.Net

    App Hub forums



    Tuesday, July 26, 2011 12:48 AM
  • Greetings from the Microsoft Community Contributor Award. Regarding your question about government officials not being able to accept the MCC Award, I wanted to provide some rationale for this. In order to avoid any conflicts with Microsoft’s anti-corruption policies, we have instituted this policy.  As this is an international award currently representing over 12 distinct languages and considerably more countries there are thousands of governmental restrictions as to what gifts can/cannot be given to officials, we have chosen to not award any government officials at this time.


    Gentlemen,

    Thanks for your intervention. It would have been good to subject this policy to some more debate and possible review. I have unmarked this thread because it might be useful to other community members in similar circumstances.

     Like I have already said, there's a world of difference between a gift and/or an award given as an inducement on the one hand and an award and/or reward given in recognition of one's contribution to a community, cause or soceity. If a government employee sits for a Microsoft certified examination, he's sure entitled to his certificate. If he performs exceptionally well and there's an award or reward for exceptional performance, he's certainly entitled to it. Neither the certificate nor the award for exceptional performance qualifies as a gift in the real sense of it. And none of them gives rise to conflict of interest of any shade.

    So in summary, I am saying that rules on conflict of interest are desirable, acceptable and understandable. But the real issue for me is whether the award of MCC or MVP to a community member in recognition of his/her contributions to this community qualifies as a gift or inducement?

    Lastly, just before we draw the curtain on this one, may I ask: what if a government employee of today leaves government employment tomorrow, will his/her award be restored? If yes, what's the process?

     

    __________ 

    PS: SJS (Moderator/JAO, 

    I wish that this remains an open discussion thread. Please do understand.

    Regards.

     

     


    Only performance counts!


    Wednesday, July 27, 2011 1:30 PM
  • Isn't it a little late to judge Sylva on his choice of making this a discussion, Ed? Consider that your only about 6 months late? I agree with Sylva in it being a discussion for a few reasons.

    • The thread was a question, but did not relate to the general content of the forum. As Sylva is/was active in this forum, he most likely considered that the contributors, members, and Microsoft staff members - who he has known or seen active for quite some time - would be knowledgeable enough to get an answer.
    • As much as we all like our recognition points. Since when does 10 points or so matter with a marked answer? I don't see why you need to be so strict to the "you must mark an answer for every thread" even if this topic does not pertain to the suited forum. So is it better suited in the "Off Topic - DO NOT POST HERE" forum? From a strict sense, yes because the content of this type does not pertain to any other forum. But from a realistic sense, he would not have gotten replies there as that is Microsoft's "trash" forum. Sylva knew he would get answers here and you can see that he has.

    Honestly, I think this whole rule on restrictions for MCCs is not logical. There are students - younger than myself - who have probably been picked for such awards but have been forced to not accept them because they are "under 18". Don't you realize what Microsoft does? Microsoft discriminates towards people because of something that they are affiliated or associated with.

    So if Sylva worked as a secretary for a governing position, would Microsoft still deny his right to accept the MCC award? Another extreme example: if somebody was accused of a crime such as rape, became a registered sex-offender, did their jail time, and turned their life around to became a great contributor to a forum such as this... Would you revoke an MCC from that person if you found out their past life?

    I really think Sylva and many others deserve proper recognition as they have been here for years. Quite frankly, if I could, I would personally hand them my MCC award as these "senior" (not necessarily in the "old" sense) members are the ones who have taught me what I know about .NET programming up to now.

    Please note, I am not personally directing this message towards you Ed, I am just reflecting my feelings to Microsoft in a free manner. If you disagree, then that is your opinion and I cannot and will not try to change that as we are both entitled to our opinions.

    Dim twoCents As Double = 0.02
    MessageBox.Show(twoCents.ToString("c"))
    

    - Jordan


    Jordan St. Godard | Microsoft® Community Contributor 2011
    Wednesday, January 04, 2012 3:39 AM
  • @Jordan/TnTinMN,

     

    Thank you both. I've been off the community for quite a while due to pressure of work and other commitments but I truly missed this forum. A few minutes ago, I was updating my LinkedIn profile and thought that I needed to add my still-born MCC award to my profile. It was in the course of adding the link to my community threads that I saw your posts.

    I have accepted Microsoft's decision in good faith even though the logic of it is, totally, lost on me.

    I invite you and everyone else to connect with me on LinkedIn.

    Happy New Year everyone.


    Only performance counts!
    Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:35 PM
  • Sylva! :-D

    Good to see you again!

    This incident was unfortunate and I don't understand it either, but get back here where you're both missed and needed man! :)

    Friday, January 27, 2012 12:04 AM
  • Sylva,

    Congatulations sort of. John is right. U.S. Companies do not make gifts to government employees period. There would be a mess if we did.

     

    Renee


    "MODERN PROGRAMMING is deficient in elementary ways BECAUSE of problems INTRODUCED by MODERN PROGRAMMING." Me
    Friday, January 27, 2012 12:29 AM
  • Isn't it a little late to judge Sylva on his choice of making this a discussion, Ed? Consider that your only about 6 months late? I agree with Sylva in it being a discussion for a few reasons.

    • The thread was a question, but did not relate to the general content of the forum. As Sylva is/was active in this forum, he most likely considered that the contributors, members, and Microsoft staff members - who he has known or seen active for quite some time - would be knowledgeable enough to get an answer.
    • As much as we all like our recognition points. Since when does 10 points or so matter with a marked answer? I don't see why you need to be so strict to the "you must mark an answer for every thread" even if this topic does not pertain to the suited forum. So is it better suited in the "Off Topic - DO NOT POST HERE" forum? From a strict sense, yes because the content of this type does not pertain to any other forum. But from a realistic sense, he would not have gotten replies there as that is Microsoft's "trash" forum. Sylva knew he would get answers here and you can see that he has.

    Honestly, I think this whole rule on restrictions for MCCs is not logical. There are students - younger than myself - who have probably been picked for such awards but have been forced to not accept them because they are "under 18". Don't you realize what Microsoft does? Microsoft discriminates towards people because of something that they are affiliated or associated with.

    So if Sylva worked as a secretary for a governing position, would Microsoft still deny his right to accept the MCC award? Another extreme example: if somebody was accused of a crime such as rape, became a registered sex-offender, did their jail time, and turned their life around to became a great contributor to a forum such as this... Would you revoke an MCC from that person if you found out their past life?

    I really think Sylva and many others deserve proper recognition as they have been here for years. Quite frankly, if I could, I would personally hand them my MCC award as these "senior" (not necessarily in the "old" sense) members are the ones who have taught me what I know about .NET programming up to now.

    Please note, I am not personally directing this message towards you Ed, I am just reflecting my feelings to Microsoft in a free manner. If you disagree, then that is your opinion and I cannot and will not try to change that as we are both entitled to our opinions.

     

    Dim twoCents As Double = 0.02
    MessageBox.Show(twoCents.ToString("c"))
    

    - Jordan

     


    Jordan St. Godard | Microsoft® Community Contributor 2011


    It actually looks like a Moderator changed the thread type to a question in the first place. I didn't notice that at first.

    Definitely not judging for changing to a discussion. That's what it started out as. It probably shouldn't have been changed in the first place.

     


    Ed Price a.k.a User Ed, Microsoft Experience Program Manager (Blog, Twitter, Wiki)
    Friday, January 27, 2012 4:40 AM
    Moderator