World Congress Organizers Plan Legacy Program

World Congress Organizers Plan Legacy Program

By Bob Starzynski
Staff Writer

With no shortage of sponsors and financial support for this summer's World Congress on Information Technology, there should be money left over for a legacy program, organizers said last week.

"We are expecting to have resources beyond what is needed for the World Congress event itself," said George Newstrom, chairman of the 1998 World Congress and corporate vice president and group executive of Electronic Data Systems Corp.'s Government Services Group in Herndon, Va.

"The board [of the congress] will dedicate the [leftover] money to some sort of legacy program," said Newstrom, who along with other organizers has raised more than $6 million. More than 81 sponsors have ponied up $1,000 to $100,000 each for an affiliation with the June 21-24 event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

George Newstrom, chairman of the 1998 World Congress

Some $500,000 may be left over from the event that could go toward a children's education program, said Newstrom, who added that no specifics have been worked out for that program. "We have not paid the bills for the congress yet," he said. "So, we are not even sure what the total cost will be."

Although there is no timetable for a decision on the education legacy program, there does not appear to be any dissent among event organizers about use of any leftover funds. The 26 members of the World Congress board will define the legacy program.

"I can't think of a more worthy cause, especially considering the [technology] industry focus on education and training," said Paul Lombardi, chief executive officer of DynCorp in Reston, Va., and a board member of the congress. DynCorp is a platinum sponsor of the industry event, a status that cost the company $100,000.

Jim Poisant, executive director of the World Congress, cautioned that it is premature to focus on the legacy of the event before all the money is collected or spent. "Those figures assume that all the funds committed will be collected and that there aren't any unforeseen expenses," he said.

Key World Congress expenses include food for the 1,800 attendees and staff to support the three-day event. Other expenses are related to transportation, international marketing and staffing for the event that has been more than two years in the making, according to Poisant.

Newstrom added: "My job is to make this the best World Congress ever. ... That is where my energy is right now."

Congress organizers recently announced that they had signed up former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher, former British prime minister, to speak at the event.

The World Congress, a biennial event, was last held in Bilbao, Spain. It is overseen by the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, based in Fairfax, Va. WITSA is comprised of information technology associations from a number of countries, including the industry-funded Information Technology Association of America in Arlington, Va.

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