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Finding unified voice proves elusive for tech-industry groups

jeka84/Shutterstock.com

Efforts to consolidate tech advocacy groups and provide a unified voice for industry lobbying in Washington are in doubt after the Information Technology Industry Council decided to suspend its discussions over a merger with TechNet.

Both groups publicly pledged to continue to work with each other, but sources close to the effort made it clear that the discussions are likely done for the duration.

One industry source familiar with the negotiations compared the move to former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain suspending his campaign. “In effect, it’s over,” he told Tech Daily Dose. Another source said the discussions are "100 percent dead."

Robert Hoffman, ITI senior vice president of government relations, said the group decided it needed to use its resources to focus on Congress and legislation ranging from tax policy to cybersecurity.

The discussions, which have been formally ongoing since the summer, stalled over disagreements over how a new consolidated industry group would be governed, Hoffman said. ITI has been governed more by government-affairs executives representing their respective companies. TechNet, meanwhile, has operated as a council of company CEOs.

Hoffman insisted ITI is still committed to eventually trying to consolidate. But no time frame has been established for resuming discussions, and the decision appears to have been made unilaterally by ITI.

“ITI has decided to suspend consolidation discussions with TechNet,” ITI said in a statement released after its executive committee decided on Monday to end the negotiations. “Achieving our goals necessitates that we turn our focus towards policy solutions.”

Both ITI and TechNet represent many of the same companies, such as Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, eBay, and Dell. There has been a proliferation of tech-industry advocacy groups, including the Internet Association, as companies face increasing pressure from Washington lawmakers.

(Image via jeka84/Shutterstock.com)

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