Forman lobbies IT companies

Forman presentation

As the largest spender on information technology, the federal government should be showing the largest return, and finding new companies as partners will be a big part of that, Mark Forman, associate director for IT and e-government at the Office of Management and Budget, said Feb. 11.

Forman spent the day in Silicon Valley talking to IT companies that are already working with the government, such as Cisco Systems Inc. But the primary focus was on companies with cutting-edge technology that have avoided the federal market because of the impression that the government is too difficult to deal with.

The government is spending more than ever on IT, and agencies are also spending more wisely, focusing on "investment" rather than "funding," said Jim Kane, president and chief executive officer at Federal Sources Inc. He and Forman were speaking at an event sponsored by Federal Sources and the American Electronics Association.

"It is a corporate mind-set where [the government is] focusing on a return on investment," he said.

As government looks to the commercial market to fill program needs—particularly the need for knowledge management and information security—the smaller and newer companies on the West Coast will be an important part of the solution, Forman said.

"We're going to go after the best of breed and we're going to buy a lot of it," he said.

The government still does not move as quickly as many in the commercial sector would like when it comes to procuring technology, although some agencies are better at it than others, Forman admitted. However, what makes the process seem longer is the push toward procuring solutions instead of just products, he said.

Instead of just looking to make a quick sale, companies with best-of-breed products need to partner with others and research where they will best be able to serve the agency they are targeting, he said.

"If you have a niche technology, you have to find where do you fit," he said.

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