Comment: Building a Bridge between Legislators and IT Firms

CompTIA looks to build a bridge between legislators and IT executives
CompTIA looks to build a bridge between legislators and IT executives

Recently, while attending a meeting of innovation-minded associations and organizations in Washington, DC, CompTIA president and CEO Todd Thibodeaux observed that there is a significant knowledge gap among legislators, their staff and Administration officials about the composition of the IT industry, and how sizeable and important a role the IT solution provider plays in the larger tech ecosystem.

“If a company isn’t making a tangible product, producing patents or IP, they aren’t getting noticed by lawmakers and federal agencies,” Thibodeaux said. “We at CompTIA have a duty to raise the level of knowledge and understanding about our industry and make sure that all facets of the industry are noticed and heard.”

To address this issue, CompTIA and the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) have announced the launch of TechVoice, a new online tool to get the word out to policymakers, opinion-shapers and others who need to have a coherent and accessible source for information on the industry. TechVoice will be a hub for legislative action and policy advocacy, allowing tech executives to contact legislators easily and speak out about issues that matter to the industry.

What does this all mean? For example, for months now Congress has been enmeshed in debate over how to repeal an unpopular measure in the health care bill. The so-called ‘1099 provision’ requires all businesses to file a Form 1099 when paying any business or individual $600 or more for goods or services in one year.

This regulation is especially burdensome to small businesses, such as many of the small and medium IT firms that comprise CompTIA’s membership. Not only would it force these firms to divert precious time away from generating revenue, maintaining jobs and growing their companies – it directly cuts into their bottom lines.

For an IT entrepreneur like Tom Bozeman of Arlington, Texas, the new law would mean filing 50% more 1099s than under the current 1099 reporting requirement, adding $5,000 per year in additional compliance and accounting fees, which is a significant sum for a small company. In fact, because firms like Bozeman’s would be forced to use more accountants, file more paper or purchase software to meet the new 1099 requirement, it is likely that overall compliance costs would exceed $17 billion – the figure that the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated it would raise in taxes.

This is where TechVoice comes in – to share the concerns of those impacted by these regulations with those who make them. Signing on to TechVoice, tech executives receive clear, succinct information on policy issues and direct links to voice their opinions to their representatives in Congress. By providing this connection, TechVoice allows members of the IT industry to stay informed, get involved and have an impact.

On TechVoice, you can follow the latest news affecting the IT industry, particularly around three themes: smart and secure technology, innovation and competitiveness, and workforce education. TechVoice also will be available on social media platforms, so the community can stay in touch anywhere, anytime. Check out TechVoice on Facebook, LinkedIn and follow the latest news on Twitter (@Tech_Voice).

TechVoice’s mission is to inform and educate the IT industry about legislative policies that affect it and, in turn, share its perspectives and concerns on these issues with elected officials. Congress and technology are increasingly tied together on issues such as cybersecurity, cloud computing and health IT. Reducing the knowledge gap between these groups is an important, mutually beneficial endeavor. TechVoice is excited to take this first step and looks forward to working with the IT industry to mobilize firms around its issues and concerns.

Elizabeth Hyman is vice president of public advocacy for CompTIA, where she is responsible for outreach to members of Congress, the executive branch, government agencies and other organizations at the federal, state and local levels of government that shape and influence public policy affecting the IT industry. Hyman joined CompTIA after overseeing US government affairs for PC manufacturer Lenovo and serving as vice president, international, at the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Between 1994 and 1997, she held various positions in the federal government, including Special Assistant to the Attorney General. Hyman is a graduate of Tufts University and holds a law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University.

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