EIA changes name, broadens focus

The 74-year-old Electronic Industries Association last week announced that it has changed its name, opening up its ranks to other associations and laying the groundwork for a broader membership base of information technology and electronics companies.

The new organization, called the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA), will present a more unified face for the electronics and IT industries when lobbying Congress, said alliance leaders, who are recruiting more technology industry associations to join the new organization.

Peter F. McCloskey, president of EIA, said that in the federal IT arena, the alliance will lobby for continued procurement reform and remedies for the national shortage of IT workers, which has put the squeeze on businesses as well as federal agencies.

"One of the things that the federation or alliance is going to be interested in is procurement reform and all the things that go with it— the adoption of the commercial practices and the things that have made the commercial sector successful," McCloskey said.

The possibility of a single alliance representing numerous technology associations is expected to be met favorably by Capitol Hill leaders.

"Congress does want to hear one voice when possible," said Olga Grkavac, senior vice president of the Systems Integration Division at the Information Technology Association of America, an association that competes with EIA for members but that also cooperates with EIA on some issues. "On the other hand, I think Congress...really leans over to hear from the small companies."

"Bad Idea"?

But at least one industry observer called the move to broaden EIA a "bad idea." Alan I. Marcus, an Iowa State University history professor who is the director of the university's Center for Historical Studies of Technology and Science, said, "If you have one major organization, and it comes down with a position, despite the fact that smaller organizations can still express their point of view, they're not going to be influential."

A source at a large EIA member firm suggested that a dwindling pool of potential member companies may have driven the creation of the new alliance.

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