I'm the technical lead on a software development project. We are wrapping up what should be the last release for this project. When I joined the team 14 months ago the project was already 14 months old but had missed all of its deadlines and there had been no releases. Since then we have turned things around and are expected to deliver the fifth and final release ahead of schedule. The team size was reduced from 7 to 4 during my time. My team has never gotten documented requirements before a release was substantially completed. Instead we, I primarily, speak to business people directly.
That said in a meeting on Monday I discovered that the product owner had approved the requirements document for the current release approximately 10 weeks ago, yet I had not received a copy of it (draft or otherwise).
When I reviewed the requirements document it asked for a number of features which would be very difficult to implement within the current release. I responded to say as much. My product owner wrote to the project manager asserting that I knew about these requirements. I wrote an email denying this. My product owner then forwarded an email of notes from a meeting approximately 11 weeks ago with diametrically opposite discussions (this one said that user applications which need attachments would be refused by a person reviewing the application, while the documented requirements state that staff should be able to email attachments to the web site which should then attach them to the user's application). Naturally, I responded saying that these two things were opposites and knowledge of the first in no way implies knowledge of the second. My product owner has written to essentially chastise me for not keeping my response respectful, while saying nothing about the reputational damage she inflicted by essentially claiming twice that I knew about the requirements and ignored them.
Given the success of this project the organization wants to embark on another with an expanded scope. I feel that I cannot start a new project with a product owner who appears to not know what is in the requirements document which she signed, is unavailable for discussion with me, and who thinks that mealy mouthed mutterings about respect are an appropriate response when she casts false aspersions on my work and character.
So my question is how do I convince the CEO to change the product owner for the next project?
For what it's worth, my boss says that there is nothing he can do, as he has been met with similar respect based deflection techniques.