Forget FGIPIC, now it's ACT

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HERSHEY, Pa. — In an effort to broaden its membership and increase its effectiveness, the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils has changed its name — and is changing its mission.

The organization is now called the American Council for Technology, its leaders announced today at the Industry Advisory Council's Executive Leadership Conference. Joiwind Ronen retains her post as executive director for both ACT and the Industry Advisory Council. Danielle Germain, former senior program manager of the enterprise solutions division of the Information Technology Association of America, has joined as a director of both groups.

"We envision government, industry, academia and nonprofit groups coming together to have a forum to share ideas," Ronen said. "We want to have more of a two-way communication."

IAC and the American Council for Technology try to represent the diversity of opinions across their constituent groups: ACT will include government, academia and nonprofit groups, while IAC is for industry. However, where the old Federation was a coalition made up entirely of groups such as the Chief Information Officer Council, ACT will also extend membership to individuals, said Barry West, president of ACT and CIO of the National Weather Service.

The organization plans new programs, including a Hill Liaison program to involve members of Congress in information sharing. ACT will also work harder to bring in state and local government representatives, Ronen said.

Organization members deliberated for several months before deciding on the changes, West said. "We looked at how we could add value to the community," he said. "We listened to both friends and detractors."

An issue that ACT and IAC view as a priority is industry certifications, said Bob Woods, chair of the Industry Advisory Council. Unlike certified public accountants or similar professionals who have to maintain continuing education and demonstrate proficiency to remain certified, information technology professionals are much more loosely controlled, he said.

"There's almost no certifications in this business, and what there is is commercial," such as Microsoft Corp.'s certification programs, he said. In reference to continuing education for CPAs, he added, "I don't know if we're going to get quite that structured, but we need something close to that."

Neither ACT nor IAC are lobbying groups, their leaders said. They exist to allow federal contractors and government representatives to discuss issues rather than to advocate specific positions.

"Many groups take an advocacy position," West said. "Our goal is to give you the range of what the opinions are."

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