WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Contractors beware

There's a lot of concern about scrutiny of government contractors on Capitol Hill and in the media. Is this a good or bad thing?

I have two thoughts - one is that people not familiar with the government contracting world are grabbing a few examples of contracts gone bad and claiming that there is massive corruption.

There is a certain ring of hysteria to some of the stories and allegations.

But another thought that keeps rattling around in my brain is that the government contracting industry is maturing, particularly the information technology rich portion of the contracting world. IT, to put in mildly, is everywhere. IT contractors also are increasingly pushing themselves into mission critical work and are delivering solutions first and technology second.

My thought is this -- Contractors need to accept and live with scrutiny because what they are doing is closer and closer to the heart of the mission agencies are trying to deliver. Their work -- your work -- impacts more than just the IT department. The chief information officer isn't your sole customer anymore. It's the front-line civil servants and the citizens they are serving.

When things go wrong, the impact is immediate and it has a human face. So it makes for good TV and dramatic stump speeches.

As I said, that's the new world you operate in.

Part of the response to this new world is that companies have an obligation to explain and inform the public about what they do and how they serve the government. They need to do this as a matter of course, not in reaction to a scandal. Midsized and the newly minted billion-dollar companies in particular need to step up and become more public.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 10, 2007 at 9:54 AM

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