By Dave Glantz, Director, Research Services, Market Connections, Inc.
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a Tech Town Hall hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) and Microsoft. The event brought together Virginia U.S. Senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine, along with a number of business leaders like Jim Sheaffer, President, North American Sector, CSC; Dendy Young, Managing Partner, McLean Capital; and Fred Humphries, Vice President of Government Affairs, Microsoft.
Although the event was hosted by the NVTC, not much talk about technology actually occurred. Instead the panel focused more on taxation, immigration, education and other mainstream political topics, as well as cybersecurity and the need for more opportunities for small/women-owned businesses selling to government.
As a member of the DC business community, I found the event to be both informative and somewhat boilerplate in nature.
For example, both candidates touched upon the topic of sequestration, but did not atoledo go into too much detail. We all know that sequestration will be calamitous for both industry and government on many levels – from key programs being cut that could undermine effectiveness to less business opportunity for industry.
Although it is impossible to predict whether sequestration will actually occur, the government contracting sector needs to brace for some major changes ahead. Although it is highly likely that the audience for this event was acutely aware of the issue of sequestration and did not need additional elaboration, I still would have liked to see how both politicians would help our business community deal with this issue.
I noticed a few other key points not addressed during the panel. For example, the candidates discussed the concept of the “sword and the shield” approach for both reactive and proactive cybersecurity. While it certainly was important to learn their broad views on the matter, I would have liked to have heard more about their perspective on the short- and long-term funding of a cybersecurity strategy. I would also be interested in their thoughts on how we can leverage the knowledge of private industry – who are on the front lines to prevent cyber-attacks on their own networks – to further enhance America’s defensive posture.
I would have also liked to have heard more about how government can take advantage of the cutting-edge creativity of small businesses.
Following these candidates, and the national political climate until election-time, is going to be an important step in determining how government contractors react to a changing federal government going into 2013 and beyond.