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Information Technology Association of America

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The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) -- formerly the Association of Data Processing Service Organizations (ADAPSO) -- describes itself as the "the only trade association representing the broad spectrum of the world-leading U.S. IT industry" -- "one of America's fastest growing industries," representing more than $800 billion in spending in 2001, according to ITAA.[1]

In November 2007, it was announced that ITAA may merge with the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association, to provide "much more of a consolidated voice in the industry." No timeline was given for the possible merger. [1] In September 2008, a possible merger was still being discussed -- this time with the American Electronics Association, or AeA.[2] In December 2008, ITAA and AeA announced that they would merge lobbying efforts under the name "Technology Association of America." [3]

Activities

ITAA describes itself in press releases as providing "global public policy, business networking, and national leadership to promote the continued rapid growth of the IT industry. ITAA consists of over 400 corporate members throughout the U.S., and a global network of 50 countries' IT associations. The Association plays the leading role in issues of IT industry concern including information security, taxes and finance policy, digital intellectual property protection, telecommunications competition, workforce and education, immigration, online privacy and consumer protection, government IT procurement, human resources and e-commerce policy."[2]

ITAA advances the interests of the IT industry in various ways, such as doing media outreach (including "virtual press kits")[3]; organizing business, investor, policy (especially tax related), technology and informational events[4]; publishing reports; maintaining an extensive speakers bureau; providing "tailored technology business insurance"; and, of course, lobbying at the state, federal and international levels of government. ITAA lists 34 employees on its website.[5] According to Lobbyists.info, 10 of these are registered lobbyists, including ITAA president Harris Miller. ITAA also uses the Washington DC lobby firms Ruder Finn, and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. as outside consultants.

In addition, ITAA has its own political action committee -- the Information Technology Association of America's "NET" PAC. The address, phone number, main contact (Harris Miller), and registered lobbyists for ITAA's "NET" PAC are identical to those of ITAA itself. The ITAA "NET" PAC focuses on computer industry and telecommunications legislative issues, according to Lobbyists.info. ITAA's "NET" PAC spending on political campaigns (a mere $10,000 or less over the 2004, 2002 and 2000 election cycles) does not reflect its political influence, though a vast majority of those funds (87% or higher) went to Republican candidates in 2002 and 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.[6] "Absent campaign [finance] reform, the information technology industry needs to give money to maintain its accessibility, serve as educators, sell its case. No question the industry must take part in the political process," explained Marc Pearl, ITAA Senior Vice-President of Government Relations.[7]

As described by ITAA: "Our goal has been, and will continue to be, working to promote IT's robust growth and contribution to the 'New Economy.' Direct lobbying, testifying at congressional hearings, and information sharing comprise the foundation of ITAA's public policy advocacy program. We also sponsor, in cooperation with the House and Senate IT working groups, regularly scheduled Congressional Staff Briefings on the many divergent and convergent issues confronting our industry, and how these critical issues can be positively and negatively impacted by government intervention... Because IT policy permeates outside the Beltway of DC, our efforts extend beyond Congress, the Administration and Federal agencies. State and local government, as well as multi-national governmental organizations and, industry groups and governments are a critical part of our focus and attention."[8]

The more than 350 member companies listed on ITAA's website include such major computer manufacturers, defense contractors, electronic voting machine manufacturers, internet-based companies and other major corporations as: Accenture Ltd., Amazon.com, AOL Time Warner, AT&T, Boeing Company, ChoicePoint, Dell Inc, Diebold Election Systems, Earthlink Network Inc, eBay Inc, Gateway Inc, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM (Corporation and Global Services), Intel Corporation, Lockheed Martin (Federal Systems and NE & SS Surface Systems), MCI, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft Corporation, Northrop Grumman IT, Oracle Corporation, PepsiCo, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Raytheon Company, Science Applications International Corporation, Sequoia Voting Systems Inc, TiVo Inc, Verizon, VoteHere Inc and Xerox Corporation.[9]

Supporting offshoring

The ITAA commissioned a report from Global Insight on "The Impact of Offshore IT Software and Services Outsourcing on the U.S. Economy and the IT Industry." The report concludes, in part: "Due to the low costs and high quality, using offshore resources in selected countries makes good economic sense. Beyond the cost incentive, global sourcing provides several other practical benefits including: the ability of multinational organizations to efficiently stage 24x7 operations; the opportunity to customize products and services to meet local needs; and the means of geographically deploying workers and facilities to succeed in globally dispersed, highly competitive markets."[10]

ITAA claims that there is a shortage of skilled IT workers in the U.S. Their proposed solution is to import several hundred thousand IT workers to the U.S. every year through technical visa programs such as the H-1B and L-1; computer programmers are the largest category of workers receiving H-1B visas, according to Immigration and Naturalization Service 2001 and 2002 data. ITAA reports have been cited by some legislators as justification to authorize sizable increases in the annual number of technical visas issued.

University of California-Davis computer science professor Norm Matloff has challenged the ITAA's claim of a shortage of skilled computer software workers in the United States and called for reform of the H-1B program. Matloff quotes members of Congress in his 2003 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform article (PDF), to make the case that the H-1B program has been expanded in response from pressure and campaign contributions from the IT industry:

"Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) remarked, 'Once it's clear [the visa bill] is going to get through, everybody signs up so nobody can be in the position of being accused of being against high tech. There were, in fact, a whole lot of folks against it, but because they are tapping the high-tech community for campaign contributions, they don't want to admit that in public.' A major supporter of pending legislation which would increase the H-1B quota, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), said, 'This is not a popular bill with the public. It's popular with the CEOs . . . This is a very important issue for the high-tech executives who give the money.'"[11](Note: this link will download a PDF file to your computer.)

In 2007, ITAA hired the PLM Group, "to lobby the federal government on immigration matters," reported Associated Press. "PLM Group is a joint venture between two lobbying firms, the Podesta Group and the Livingston Group." Among those who are lobbying on H1B visa program on behalf of ITAA are "Andrew Kauders, former senior adviser to Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Walter Pryor, who was legislative director for Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; and John Scofield, former communications director for the House Appropriations Committee." [4]

Defending electronic voting

ITAA has also tried to help its electronic voting machine manufacturer members combat an onslaught of negative publicity from technical problems, faulty security measures, concerns raised by computer scientists and security experts, and perceived conflicts of interest of company executives (especially Diebold Election Systems). It drafted a proposed PR plan for e-voting companies to "generate positive public perception."[12], Draft of PR plan (PDF)

ITAA has opposed one of the more modest demands of e-voting critics -- a paper receipt verifying each vote. ITAA president Harris Miller was quoted in the May 2004 issue of Congressional Quarterly's Governing Magazine: "I think that the paper verification system is kind of giving people a false sense of security... I can give you a receipt, but if I started out the day by stuffing the ballot box with 50 ballots for Bush, I haven't actually done anything to make the system secure." In the same article, the Election Technology Council is identified as a new trade group within ITAA for voting machine manufacturers.

This stands in contradiction to Harris' earlier remarks at the December 2003 press conference announcing the launch of the Election Technology Council, the e-voting machine manufacturers' trade group: "The customer is always right. If the state and local election officials want paper ballots, the industry will provide those," he remarked.[13]

In mid-March 2004, ITAA "hosted a briefing for reporters... with two election supervisors, an attorney and an advocate for the blind defending the [e-voting] machines... Most [e-voting machines] don't generate a paper trail, and other companies that make them have resisted adding that feature. The machines do, however, include internal controls, such as recording votes in multiple storage locations, which serve the same purpose as a paper receipt, industry advocates said."[14]

Lobbying

In the first three months of 2008, ITAA spent $292,000 on federal lobbying, according to its disclosure reports. ITAA lobbied on such issues as "immigration reform, visa fraud prevention, online crime, defense contracting and more," contacting not only Congress but "the departments of Commerce, Defense, Justice, Labor, Homeland Security, Treasury, Agriculture and others." [5]

Contact information

Information Technology Association of America
1401 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1100
Arlington, Virginia 22209
Phone: 703.522.5055
Fax:703.525.2279
Web: http://www.itaa.org

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. "Proposed Merger Of Trade Grps May Help Tech Cos Influence Hill," Associated Press / Dow Jones, November 21, 2007.
  2. Kim Hart, "From Two Tech Lobbying Firms, One Dynamo," Washington Post, September 15, 2008.
  3. Dawn Kawamoto, "AeA and ITAA to merge," CNET News, December 9, 2008.
  4. "Tech Group Taps Lobbyist for Visa Issues," Associated Press, November 19, 2007.
  5. "ITAA spent $292,000 lobbying on tech issues in 1Q," Associated Press, June 30, 2008.

External resources

External articles