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Dell Partners Launch Lobbying Effort to Push For More SMB-Friendly Policies

Some of Dell's public sector partners have joined forces to advocate for more investment in next-generation technology, as well as reforms in areas such as quota, contracting and procurement regulations.

Some of Dell's public sector partners have joined forces to lobby for more SMB-friendly changes in such areas as quota, contracting and procurement regulations.

Dell and 15 of its technology partners have banded together to launch GovEvolve, which will advocate for policies that drive innovation and investment in next-generation technology, with a particular focus on issues that affect IT service providers with anywhere between 25 and several hundred employees.

"We want government to run smoother and have a more refined approach to what they're doing with the business community," said Rene LaVigne, co-chair of GovEvolve and CEO of Iron Bow Technologies. "Without Dell being the enabling force, we would probably have difficulty aggregating ourselves around the country."

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The U.S. government's procurement process has swung too far in the direction of meeting the minimum specifications at the lowest possible price, which LaVigne said has deterred innovation and harmed the IT service provider community.

Chantilly, Va.-based Iron Bow, No. 42 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, has found contract compliance in the federal government world to be very costly and extensive, particularly for its legal and contract departments, LaVigne said. Iron Bow operates in the federal, commercial and health care verticals, and said the mandates between the government and commercial spaces don't even compare.

"It's night and day in terms of the expense and the infrastructure you have to have in place," LaVigne said.

LaVigne has been a Dell partner for nearly two decades, and said Dell's channel leadership asked him to co-chair the group on behalf of industry representatives.

Michael Dell was a major proponent of GovEvolve, LaVigne said, and support from leaders such as Chris Turner – Dell's director of Americas Government Affairs – will give the organization more knowledgeable resources and a mature approach to what's really happening in the halls of Congress.

"There's never been a concept like this brought to the community – it was rather novel," LaVigne said. "Typically, we would not have the capacity or the budget or bandwidth to invest in lobbying initiatives on a one-off basis."

Major Fortune 100 technology companies involved in the government contracting space have significant resources and do lots of independent lobbying, LaVigne said. But small and mid-sized solution providers have to aggregate their voices to present more of a unified and leverageable effort on Capitol Hill.

"The issues that a $30 billion company are dealing with are significantly removed from a $30 million company," LaVigne said. "The $30 million guy competing with the $30 billion guy is at a significant disadvantage."

At 500 employees and $870 million in annual sales, Iron Bow is at the larger end of GovEvolve's membership community. LaVigne said he realizes the issues facing Iron Bow are different than those of many of GovEvolve's smaller members. He also understands that not everything on his personal agenda will make it to GovEvolve's agreed-upon platform.

"This is a group effort," LaVigne said. "It isn't any one individual's effort."

GovEvolve had a kickoff with all its members in late July that lasted several hours, LaVigne said, and will be meeting with all member companies monthly to get a platform together and establish an agenda for 2017. LaVigne expects GovEvolve to have a more solid set of initiatives and proposals together within the next 60 to 90 days.

"I'm likely the best representative to have a conversation with Congress about what's going on in the marketplace and what our customers are saying," LaVigne said.

Other members of GovEvolve include such companies as: the government arm of CDW, No. 5 on CRN's SP 500; Force 3, No. 78 on the SP 500; Mercom, No. 130; and Technology Integration Group (TIG), No. 70;

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