TechAmerica: Education needed on the role of contractors

Association says it needs to explain to White House the important role contractors play in government operations.

With the White House pushing for reforms to limit the role of contractors, TechAmerica said today that part of its mission as an industry association will be to educate the Obama administration about how much contractors contribute to the success of government missions.

The comments came at a media briefing TechAmerica — the association formed by the merger of the American Electronics Association and the Information Technology Association of America — held Friday to talk about policy issues and the economic stimulus package.

The Obama administration unveiled plans this week to develop guidance for agencies to help them determine when it is appropriate to hire contractors and what type of contracts to use.

During the campaign and since, President Obama has railed against contracting abuses, a perceived lack of competition and the overuse of cost-plus and time-and-material contracts.

“Our challenge will be to educate the administration that the private sector works with the government everyday,” said Olga Grkavac, TechAmerica’s executive vice president, public sector. “We need to present a more positive picture.”

Grkavac said there wasn’t much new in the administration’s March 4 announcement that it would issue sets of guidance by July 1 and Sept. 30. “We are going to be looking for more detail,” she said.

“My interpretation of what the president said is that this is more about balance, about reining in some areas where only the government should be,” said Christopher Hansen, TechAmerica’s chief executive officer. “There has never been a time when the government didn’t use people from the private sector.”