Hewlett-Packard’s new service contract

From today’s New York Times

Other documents provided to Congressional investigators revealed that Hewlett-Packard was billed a total of $325,641.65 for various services related to the leak investigation’s second phase from January to April. That included $83,597.42 for surveillance, which was described as “Multiple Surv. And Sting Activity Palo Alto, Piedmont, SF, LA, CA & Denver CO.” A parenthetical note clarifies that the surveillance included “trash re-con of all areas.”

Background investigations on several board members and their relatives, as well as reporters for The Wall Street Journal and the online service CNet, did not come cheap. The bill was $66,688. There were also background checks on employees of Hewlett-Packard’s media relations department, costing $6,435. And locating, identifying, charting and cataloguing records of interested parties — the part of the investigation that apparently included pretexting — cost $44,875.

Invoices from the Action Research Group, the Florida company that is reported to have arranged the pretexting, are also among the more than 100 documents obtained by Congressional investigators. Many of them run in the vicinity of $100, but a 2005 invoice for call records of Carleton S. Fiorina, around the time of her dismissal as chairwoman and chief executive, shows a price tag of $500. The invoices conclude with the line “Thank you for using our services!!!”, all in capital letters, followed by a black-and-white rendition of Hello Kitty, a popular Japanese cartoon character.

Footnote: “trash re-con” is not a reference to the icon on the Windows desktop.