Technology associations move to merge operations

Two technology trade associations are taking steps to consolidate their membership rolls, programs and offices after a merger was approved by their boards of directors.

The boards of the Information Technology Association of America and the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association approved the merger Friday afternoon after months of talks.

The staffs of both groups, including the CEOs and the boards, will be consolidated as an initial step before all the paperwork is complete April 1. GEIA Chief Executive Dan Heinemeier said he does not expect to "see much in the way of layoffs."

ITAA has 14 board members, and GEIA has 70. GEIA's 11-member executive committee and three additional board members will join with ITAA's 14 existing board members for a new 28-member board.

Heinemeier will become executive vice president and chief operating officer of ITAA and still lead the annual Standards and Market Forecasting report. ITAA Chief Executive Phil Bond will be CEO of the new group.

"It will be a good balance of both our strengths," Heinemeier said. "Phil is an outstanding CEO and I've been running tech associations for years." Before GEIA, which Heinemeier has led since 1999, he was vice president of the Electronic Industries Alliance.

GEIA has 110 members and ITAA has 300. When the overlap in firms is subtracted, the new group will represent nearly 400 companies.

"Our industry is very excited," Heinemeier said. "What we're trying to do is build an industry association that has much more weight in Washington, hopefully more influence in town than the two of us had separately."

ITAA has been active in government procurement, cyber security and software assurance. GEIA has been a voice on the research and development tax credit and export controls, and is known for its annual forecast report that takes a 10-year look at the government defense budget and five-year look at the federal information technology budget.

Bond said that as ITAA works on its mission to represent members from the state to the national and international levels, with GEIA as a partner, the forecasting reports now could be expanded to the state level.

He said overall the merger fits ITAA's mission of representing tech companies from the grassroots to globally. "This dramatically increases our position in the national space," Bond said.

As for the logistical issues like office space, GEIA will move from its Arlington, Va., office to ITAA's nearby headquarters in the city. ITAA has been renting its extra space, while GEIA has been leasing space in the building it used to own as a member of EIA.

EIA sold that building late last month for about $30 million. GEIA will split the proceeds of that sale with four other tech associations that were founding members of EIA.

Bond, who has long advocated more consolidation of tech groups in Washington, said the merger helps "show the government where to go in terms of getting industry input."

"The industry would benefit from more consolidation and I believe there will be more," he added.

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