A New Era At TechAmerica – Five Big Priorities

TechAmerica is back from a rough fall when four key executives left suddenly to start a competing public sector organization. Now, Mike Hettinger the newly hired Senior Vice President for Public Sector, is hitting the ground running. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that he has spent considerable time since he was hired six weeks ago, meeting with TechAmerica members to really get a feel for their biggest priorities in 2014. 

"I have spent a lot of time trying to understand where the Association has been on some issues. I have been out talking to a number of our members about what their priorities are. We are really in the process now of putting together our strategy for 2014 and beyond," said Hettinger. "Our operating mantra is, 'what we used to do is good and what we are going to do moving forward is going to be that much better.'"

What are some of the big issues on your plate?

  • Acquisition Reform

"IT reform or you could say acquisition reform more broadly. The current reform legislation has been sitting in committee on the Hill for about 1.5 years now. There is also a big acquisition reform effort getting underway at the House Armed Services Committee. We are excited to participate in that effort at the urging of the House Armed Services Committee. There needs to be some changes made so that we can enable the acquisition process to keep up with technology. If we were having this conversation four years ago we wouldn’t even be talking about cloud computing. Nobody had heard of it. Nobody knew what it was. Cloud requires a whole new way of thinking about how you acquire technology. It has moved from a capital expense to an opportunity expense. There are some tweaks that need to be made that allows us to acquire cloud more quickly,' said Hettinger.

  • Hiring

"I think there could be some hiring reform changes that would allow us to get tech workers into government more quickly. Also, pay them a little more to keep pace with the private sector," said Hettinger. 

  • More contractors

"We are looking for anything government can do to increase the number of innovative companies and small businesses contracting with the public sector. This has been an issue that we have been talking about for decades. One idea that has been proposed is creating centers for excellence. But, it is one of those issues that you could look at and say theoretically having a tech expertise clearinghouse would be beneficial. But the challenge is what authority does it have? What resources can you plug into it? Can it actually function as intended. Every week the government buys hundreds of millions of dollars in acquisitions. You can’t have a group of 12 people reviewing all of those contracts. You need to have a larger office," said Hettinger.

  • Cybersecurity

"Everybody across the board in the tech sector has looked at the Executive Order on Cybersecurity that was issued a year ago and liked it as a first step. There is still legislation up on the Hill in various committees. Some of those bills would improve things on issues we care about. Internally here we are going to bulk up our cyber expertise," said Hettinger. 

  • State and Local

"When you get out into the states you are talking about education technology being the big issue. That is where we are going to have a growing focus," said Hettinger. 

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