Contacting State, Federal Reps Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

Don Tennant

If you've ever thought there needs to be an easier, more convenient way to have your voice heard by your elected representatives at the state and federal levels, you aren't alone. Fortunately, somebody has finally done something about it.


CompTIA, the IT trade association best known for its certification programs, has hooked up with the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) to launch TechVoice, a website that provides a tool that makes it incredibly easy to contact your state and federal reps. I tried it out, and it's pretty cool. You just enter your zip code, and up pops a list of all the state and federal officials who serve you, along with a Web form you can use to send any of them a message.


TechVoice also serves as an information resource to keep you up to speed on all sorts of policy issues that affect the IT profession, so it's definitely a tech-centric site. But what I found especially appealing is the fact that you can use the tool to contact your reps about any issue that concerns you, whether it has anything to do with technology, the IT profession or not. There's no charge involved, so there's just no reason not to take full advantage of it.


That said, it's an especially helpful tool to address issues relating to technology, since so much pertinent information is available right on the site. Liz Hyman, CompTIA's vice president of public advocacy, has been living and breathing the TechVoice project for nearly a year, so I spoke with her to get a sense of CompTIA's purpose in all of this. Here's a little background she provided:

Part of this is a vision that our CEO Todd Thibodeaux had, in terms of giving a voice to a broader spectrum of the IT and technology community. A lot of attention is given to the top 400 or so manufacturers and vendors out there-and understandably so, when they're creating all kinds of cool technology. But there are tens of thousands of IT solution providers, and folks that are in the IT channel, who have not always been given a voice to speak up on things that matter to them as a small- or medium-size business in the technology field. So we kind of noodled along a few avenues and came up with the TechVoice idea, reached out to TECNA, and we've been working with them to develop this site, which is meant to be a grassroots tool and a one-stop shop for issues that impact the IT industry.

Hyman also provided an overview of the policy issues that top CompTIA's agenda:

We are very much engaged in the discussion about the skills for the 21st century economy. Because CompTIA is a certification provider as well, workforce development and general support for innovation obviously drive a lot of that discussion from our perspective. We also look very closely at issues impacting small- and medium-size businesses, what we call the "SMB tech entrepreneur." And the third basket is what I call "secure and smart IT solutions," which would be things like cyber security, data breaches, privacy, things of that nature. This week we're very focused on what's going on with the 1099 issue, because H.R. 4 is coming up for a vote in the House.

Hyman said TechVoice will also help CompTIA keep a finger on the pulse of what's happening at the state level:

I would not be surprised to see that a lot of the regional tech associations that are involved with us are going to have their own perspectives and touch on these types of issues. I would say the value of TechVoice is not only what's going on at the federal level and getting that out to the thousands of IT solution providers and technology companies across the country, but also learning from our partners about what's going on at the state level that's potentially going to percolate up. You know the old expression, "the states are the laboratories of democracy." I hope that TechVoice gives a bit of that vantage point to the technology issues we're looking at.

I asked Hyman where CompTIA stands on the H-1B visa issue, specifically about whether the cap needs to be raised. Her response:

We have not weighed in on the cap, but I will say that what we are interested in is how some of the H-1B visa fees are put back into the system for worker retraining and career technical education. That's something we've worked with the Department of Labor on, and we'll continue to weigh in on what's the right way to ensure that the funds that are collected from the H-1B are used to invest in our workforce here in the United States.

Hyman explained that the reason CompTIA hasn't weighed in on the cap has to do with the fact that its core constituency is comprised of SMBs that aren't affected by the issue:

When you think about a lot of the IT solution providers, they're not hiring folks from overseas. These are domestic jobs. So we're trying to follow where our membership is in terms of giving voice to some of their concerns and issues.

Hyman is a registered lobbyist. I asked her if it's fair to say that "lobbyist" has a negative connotation, and if so, what she does do to overcome that. I liked her response:

I suppose I would take a step back and say what we're trying to do is represent the interests of people that have not always had a voice at the table. So coming back to this notion of tens of thousands of IT solution providers that are small businesses across the country, I'm proud to be able to try to give a voice to some of the things that they care about from a policy point of view. That's my job.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 2, 2011 4:05 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:

I find it interesting that they have not weighed in on the matter.  At the end of the day, CompTIA like any other company will voice their views based on their own financial incentives.  Currently it appears they have a financial incentive to remain mum on the topic.

The companies not so mum on the matter have a financial incentive to move jobs offshore.  The top sponsors of H-1b visa holders are in fact companies who are either primarily engaged in offshore outsourcing or offshoring their own internal operations.

My guess is that SMBs feel bullied or pressured into remaining quiet.  Make too much noise and it could cause problems with partners or investors.

For a country that cherishes freedom to much, most business people choose not to exercise their right of free speech, and instead choose to slowly and quietly watch their country's wealth vanish.  Some of the ones who have chirped in are now retired and not liking prospects for their offspring.

I guess I shouldn't expect anyone to start manning up now, and standing for their own national interest.  If you're going to do that at least be man enough to do it before you're halfway in the grave.

Mar 3, 2011 9:48 AM Bob Bob  says: in response to R. Lawson

Hey, at least she's not taking a stand FOR H-1b (like most of them do), I'll give her that.

I think her silence is probably in her best interests - she'll get blackballed by industry if she tells the truth about it, but spouting propaganda wont make much difference either, with the 24/7 cheap labor propaganda machine already running - one more voice joining it wont change the outcome, and it will just tick off a lot of citizen tech workers

Mar 17, 2011 12:09 PM BT1024 BT1024  says:


Thank you for writing about this and making us aware of the Techvoice tool for contacting our representatives....

I won't get into the H-1B issue here...

*BUT, I think that a lot of us folks in the "Ant-H1B camp" should use a tool of this nature to let our voice be heard by our gov't representatives (though, I don't have much hope that they are listening or will listen - since I believe that big corporate lobbyists and lobbyists from other countries tend to get their way - But, that shouldn't stop the citizens of this country from trying to use their "collective" voice)..


*folks being the ones that either want the H-1B program shut down, or wanting an H-1B system with less loopholes, with more regulation to ensure that the system is used as it was originally designed and being more fair to the U.S. worker.

Mar 17, 2011 12:17 PM Don Tennant Don Tennant  says: in response to BT1024

Well, using that definition, I would fall into the 'anti-H-1B camp' because I definitely want 'an H-1B system with less loopholes, with more regulation to ensure that the system is used as it was originally designed and being more fair to the U.S. worker.' Ah, the irony, huh?


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