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One Fewer Tech Association, What Does that Mean? – Plus the 7 Gov Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Do you know where your money is being spent in the government? Now you will. Legislation mandating detailed reporting on federal spending passed the House Monday and is heading for President Obama’s signature. So how will the DATA Act actually work? Get insights from the Data Transparency Coalition’s Hudson Hollister.

You can find all of our programs online at DorobekINSIDER.com and GovLoop Insights at http://insights.govloop.com.

But up front: One fewer tech association – and three implications for what it means.

We start the week with the news that there will be one fewer technology in the government space: CompTIA has acquired TechAmerica.

Politico’s Tony Romm first reported the news:

CompTIA has acquired TechAmerica, the struggling Washington tech-and-defense trade association, Tony [Romm] reports… CompTIA will keep its name, while adding a new tagline, ‘The ICT Industry Trade Association.’ The group’s current president and CEO, Todd Thibodeaux, will remain at the helm. And TechAmerica’s corporate members ‘will roll over’ to become CompTIA members, Thibodeaux said in an interview, as will portions of TechAmerica’s existing staff. CompTIA also will retain its current board of directors, but it will add a member from TechAmerica’s board.

For CompTIA, the move represents a major moment of growth as it tries to be ‘more representative of all of IT,’ Thibodeaux explained. Still, the acquisition spells big changes ahead for TechAmerica, which formed in 2009 after a handful of existing industry groups joined forces. TechAmerica in its prime represented a huge cross-section of industry – from tech companies like Microsoft to defense leaders like Lockheed Martin to telecom giants like CenturyLink. But companies began to peel away from the group and shift to other associations, which contributed to TechAmerica’s steadily declining finances. Recently, TechAmerica lost its major public-policy staffers to a rival, the Information Technology Industry Council. (TechAmerica later sued ITI related to the poaching, while hiring new staff; the case was settled on undisclosed terms.)

CompTIA put out a release this morning.

The news is not a total shock. There has been rampant speculation that TechAmerica was seeking a buyer and had talks with… well, just about everybody. And TechAmerica was in dire financial straits — dire enough that it moved its headquarters to Arlington suddenly.

And there was also a settlement late last week of a lawsuit between TechAmerica and IT Industry Council (ITI). The merger comes seemingly minutes after TechAmerica and ITI settled that lawsuit.

“This is not the merging of two identical organizations. TechAmerica and CompTIA have complementary interests and goals within the ICT industry,” wrote Shawn Osborne, president and CEO of TechAmerica, in a statement on its website. “Whereas TechAmerica has been a leading voice of large businesses and the tech public sector, CompTIA has built a strong reputation for workforce training and certification, business education and best practices, and advocacy for small and medium technology companies in the IT sector. Joining forces consolidates disparate segments of the ICT sector under one roof to enhance voice, reach and influence. A single, unified organization for commercial and public sector interests allows us to advance business interests and opportunities as a whole.”

Four takeaways from the merger:

  • The government market is intensely competitive: There was a time when there was plenty of space for scores of industry associations. They each looked at the market slightly differently and they each did fairly well, thank you very much. That has changed as we have seen many of these government groups merge/disappear.
  • It is a competitive world: It is an intensely competitive world these days. There is very little opportunity to rest on your laurels — even in world of non-profits, associations… even in the public sector.
  • There are razor thin margins in the government market: One of the big takeaways, is the decreasing number of associations is due in part, because the margins in the government contracting space are pretty thin. That has impacts on associations, but it also has impacts on government, which leads to…
  • Government market… or government clique? Is the government market is increasingly becoming a government clique? It is one of the really insidious impacts coming from gridlock in Washington — because the White House can’t get anything done on Capitol Hill, they tend to use executive orders. Those executive orders tend to be focused on government contracts — if you want to do business with the government you must… and fill in the blank… it can be paying a higher minimum wage… or higher cyber-security requirements. Agree or disagree about the nobleness or importance of the goal or requirement, they all make it more difficult to do business with the government. There was a time when the government controlled markets. That is less true all the time, and the concern from many is that these requirements mean that the people who do government business are either very big or purely focus on the government.

Finally, the Washington Business Journal asked CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux about the public sector space and the new organization’s plan moving forward:

“We hope that it will not only continue, but that we’ll be able to pool resources with the existing infrastructure to make it stronger. We’re talking about an entity that’s 200 employees strong, with a big global footprint, so we’ll be able to bring good perspectives while maintaining everything that already exists. We’re heavily involved in government workforce issues, providing certifications in the federal space, so we want to leverage those relationships, too.”

There is still much movement. It will be interesting to watch how things settle.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life:

  1. Homeland Security Watch: New DHS Secretary tackles “Unity of Effort” – “DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson yesterday issued a memo to the senior leadership of the Department entitled ‘Strengthening Departmental Unity of Effort.’ The memo establishes the strategic objective of making DHS ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ and a Department ‘that operates with much greater unity of effort.’”

  2. Federal Times: SSA Draft Vision Calls For Smaller Workforce, Fewer Offices – “The draft, obtained by the Federal Times, offers a strategic vision of what the agency should be in 2025 – a digitally focused and smaller agency that uses automated systems to help its customers with only occasional face-to-face interaction.”

  3. USA Today: VA Treatment Records Falsified, Probe Finds – “Clerks at the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Fort Collins were instructed last year how to falsify appointment records so it appeared the small staff of doctors was seeing patients within the agency’s goal of 14 days, according to the investigation.”

  4. Federal News Radio: “Broken” Pay System Driving SES Out of Government – “A survey of about 400 members of the senior executive service found multiple cases where General Schedule employees make “as much, if not more, in total compensation (base pay plus performance bonuses)” than members of the senior executive service and senior professional employees. The survey, which was taken in February by the nonprofit Senior Executives Association, lays some of the blame at pay freezes and the ongoing political hostility against civil servants.”

  5. GovExec: Customers and Border Protection to Hire 2,000 – “At a time of federal downsizing, the Customs and Border Protection website is displaying a prominent “Now Hiring” notice, part of a push to recruit 2,000 officers to be stationed at air, land and sea ports nationwide.”

  6. Washington Business Journal: Obama to Nominate New Controller to Fill Role Vacated by Danny Werfel at OMB – “David Mader, a long-time former fed and current executive with Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., may succeed Danny Werfel as controller of the Office of Management and Budget, according to Federal News Radio.”

  7. NextGov: 11-Month Defense Health Record Contract Awarded to Leidos – “The Defense Health Agency has awarded Leidos — formerly Science Applications International Corp, or SAIC — a sole source, $70.7 million bridge contract to support military electronic health record systems over the next 11 months.”

DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder… yes, we’re trying to help you make your water-cooler time better too…

  • Government contractors scale up search for Heartbleed-like flaws [Bloomberg] The federal government’s growing industrial-cybermilitary complex, where coders look for bugs in existing software that could later be used for cyberwar. Old school military contractors Raytheon Co., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. have successfully made the paradigm shift from producing tanks and jets to software exploits.

  • Yelping government contracting officers? Consultant Lists DHS’ Most (and Least) Annoying Contracting Officers [NextGov] GovTribe has launched its Purse String Index, a paid tool that ranks the contracting officers at federal agencies based on how frequently they award contracts, how long the procurement process takes, the average dollar value of the contracts they award and their “annoyance factor.” In this case, annoying means how often the contracting officer modifies a solicitation after it’s posted and how often he or she changes deadlines. “We think it’s pretty reasonable to penalize contracting officers for due date changes because that does affect contractors’ bottom line,” GovTribe co-founder Marc Vogtman said.

  • 5 Reasons Why Emergency Operations Are Going Virtual [Government Technology]: Most events can be handled virtually; Everybody in the area is on the same page; Multi-agency collaboration can happen quickly; A smaller staff can work more efficiently; Information sharing is easier and uses fewer resources.

  • Reading @WSJ: Symantec: Antivirus software is dead: Company estimates that antivirus catches just 45% of attacks http://on.wsj.com/1kAIREb

  • Curiosity Rover Is Hard at Work in Latest Interactive Mars Panorama [Wired]

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