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TechAmerica sues former lobbyists

Things turned ugly over the last week as TechAmerica filed suit over the departure of three senior employees who departed for a rival technology association.

The Information Technology Industry Council has been historically quiet in the public sector technology space until earlier this month, when it hired three of TechAmerica’s government experts and launched its own public sector group.

TechAmerica has fired back with a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Washington D.C., claiming a breach of contract and the lifting of proprietary information with the departure of Trey Hodgkins, Pam Walker and Carol Henton. A fourth TechAmerica employee, Erica McCann, also left with them, but she is not named as defendant in the suit.

Hodgkins and company left TechAmerica on Nov. 4, and the next day, ITI announced his and the others' hiring, as well as the formation of the Information Technology Alliance for Public Sector.

TechAmerica is claiming they took information about members and dues, as well as recruited members to ITI as a prerequisite for being hired.

I usually think of trade associations being rather polite. Sure, they’ll fight for their members, but rarely do you see them go after each other; in this case, however, the claws are out.

Hewlett-Packard executive and TechAmerica chairman Dennis Stolkey said in a statement, “These three individuals and ITI have attempted to damage TechAmerica's service to its members through unlawful means. That is not acceptable.”

He said they perpetrated “illegal acts” as they left his organization.

It is in everyone’s best interest to settle this case, but TechAmerica has little to lose and much to gain through this fight. They are asking for $5 million, as well as more for other damages.

It is unfortunate that this is happening now as Congress gears up for the next budget battles as well as a host of other issues that will impact procurement and technology issues. The last thing the industry needs is to be fighting with itself.

The departures are a blow to TechAmerica. Plenty of rumors have swirled around the organization in the last year or so, and these departures at the very least create the perception of instability.

The organization does have a strong board of directors to fall back on, starting with Stolkey, who ran the public sector business of HP Enterprise Services before being promoted to senior vice president of the Americas.

Other executives on the board with public sector experience include Bill Ballhaus, CEO of SRA International, Thomas Anderson, chief operating officer of STG Inc., Robin Lineberger of Deloitte, Charles Prow of IBM, and George Schindler of CGI.

With TechAmerica on the offensive, ITI has vowed to fight back, and won’t let the lawsuit distract it from the work it does for its members.

But with $5 million at stake, it’s hard to imagine this fight not being a distraction.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 12, 2013 at 11:59 AM


Reader Comments

Tue, Nov 12, 2013 John Weiler, IT-AAC.org United States

There are lots of industry groups serving the Federal IT market, but none as prominent as TechAmerica until now. IT-AAC.org, ACT/IAC, AFFIRM, SIIA, are more than capable to fill the void in the short term while they duke it out in the courts. With Obama calling for IT Procurement reform over the Healthcare.gov mess, the IT Acquisition Advisory Council will be reaching out to all parties to cooperate for the common good.

Tue, Nov 12, 2013 J. Dickman National Capital Region

It would be helpful to inform readers about how Tech America complements or competes with PSC, which certainly also has all the IT players and many middle size ones. Also, how does the new organization that hired the Tech Am lobbyists fit with PSC?

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