New group to lobby on federal purchasing

A new information technology vendor group has formed to develop industrywide positions on how the government should implement the new Information Technology Management Reform Act (ITMRA).

The Industry Coalition on Information Technology (ICIT), a collection of vendors and trade associations, hopes to influence new management and acquisition procedures the government adopts under the law.

"We're absolutely going to be lobbying," said Ella Schiralli, director of government relations with the Electronic Industries Association and one leader of the group. "I think [officials] will generally try to get access to industry opinions and be thoughtful about accommodating them."

"For people that are looking to provide services and products to the government, the world they knew is being turned around, and it's not clear what will replace it," said Olga Grkavac, vice president of the Information Technology Association of America's Systems Integration Division and the other ICIT leader. "It's important that reorganization come out in the most logical and meaningful way."

Grkavac said it is not clear just how ICIT will make its impact because many of the reforms dictated by ITMRA involve internal agency operations that do not directly involve contracting.

While the Office of Management and Budget is seeking industry suggestions for new policies, large portions of the law do not involve issuing new regulations that would require the government to consider formal comments from the public.

After two meetings, ICIT members have yet to determine which aspects of the law they want to pursue. But Schiralli said vendors will probably want input on how acquisition pilot programs specified in the law are carried out as well as how new bid protest procedures are designed.

The General Accounting Office issued a proposed rule revising its protest procedures last week.

Steve Kelman, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said he will seek industry comments on procurement-related portions of ITMRA. Meanwhile, the Industry Advisory Council is advising OMB on the role that new chief information officers should play in the government.

The law takes effect Aug. 8. OMB has already issued guidelines for agencies to consider when appointing CIOs and expects to release proposed revisions to its Circular A-130, which guides IT management, later this month. Federal officials are also examining the Federal Information Resources Management Regulation to determine which portions of it will be preserved and in what form.

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