Revitalizing FGIPC

The Federation of Government Information Processing Councils, a mainstay in our community market, is showing signs of new life.

For 23 years, FGIPC has been a significant, if relatively quiet, player in the government market. Often the most visible FGIPC group is the Industry Advisory Council (IAC), but in Washington, D.C., we also have an active chapter of the Association for Federal Information Resources Management (AFFIRM), which is also celebrating 23 years.

At its height in the early 1990s, FGIPC had about 25 regional councils representing more than 20,000 information technology professionals from federal, state and local governments.

As with many great ideas, though, people become uninterested and things get put to the side. But times are changing. Alan Balutis, a former federal employee, has been the executive director of FGIPC for about two years. And some encouraging signs are cropping up behind the scenes.

Two councils have been added. AFFIRM still boasts an active membership and a monthly luncheon in Washington, where serious players from industry and government share ideas.

One of the stronger FGIPC chapters, SIGCAT (Special Interest Group, CD-ROM Applications and Technology), languished for a while, but was recently revived as the DVD Association and held its first event in more than two years. SIGCAT founder E.J. "Jerry" McFaul, a computer scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey, is DVDA's new vice president of government relations.

At the FGIPC Web site (www.fgipc. org), you can observe more regional activity.

The IAC chapter in Denver, led by Jim Ridgell, a co-founder of the original IAC, has 25 members and works closely with the Western IT Council in producing excellent events. The recent Western Chief Information Officer Summit 2002 in Breckenridge, Colo., is a great example of what happens when "member councils team with their industry associates," Ridgell said.

Even though I don't see Ridgell often, when we get together, we always end up talking about how we can help the government and industry IT communities work together better. We both believe FGIPC is moving strongly in that direction.

Balutis' vision is to have a strong FGIPC chapter in the 10 cities with the biggest federal government presence and expand from there to include other major cities. And each city with an active FGIPC chapter should have an IAC supporting group of contractors who are ready, willing and able to help.

But Balutis needs assistance on both the local and national fronts. Whether you represent the public or private sector, if you would like to participate in the revitalization projects going on at FGIPC, contact Balutis at abalutis@ fgipc.org. This can only benefit all of us, at a time when our country needs it most.

Amtower is a partner in Amtower and Co. in Ashton, Md. This column represents his personal views.

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