By Anne Armstrong

Blog archive

Is Transparency Killing Partnership?

Two gatherings last week prompted similar disturbing questions about the current state of relations between government and industry. It wasn’t that long ago when all the major conferences had the word “partnership” in the theme. IAC named its professional development program, The Partners Program. The Clinger Cohen approach to procurement reform rested on the assumption of a trusted partnership.

Nick Wakeman has described in his blog some of the industry concerns that surfaced at a dinner to discuss how relationships between government and industry have changed.

On the same evening, the Government Marketing Forum hosted a panel discussion of how the new ethics rules have changed how companies market to government and how they interact.

One of the themes from both meetings is that there is a great deal of confusion about what kinds of conversations are permitted. Faced with that, government folks either refuse to have meetings or include their legal team. Industry responds by hiring more lawyers and ethics professionals. Large integrators may have up to 80 or more ethics people to vet every request. Both sides ratchet up proof of compliance.

The unintended effect of all the new rules designed to provide transparency and openness has been to shut down conversation. I may be naïve, but I still believe that the more industry understands about what government is trying to accomplish, the better the proposals and outcomes will be.

But underlying all the reporting changes is a more fundamental shift -- a loss of trust on both sides. That will be far more difficult to change. It will take some dynamic leadership and risk takers on both sides to restore.

Posted by Anne Armstrong on Sep 21, 2009 at 12:10 PM

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group