From the Publisher

FRAMINGHAM (01/27/2000) - COME TOGETHER Washington, D.C., is a town of power.

And of associations. According to the D.C.-based American Society of Association Executives, more than 135,000 associations exist in the United States-many of them with headquarters and offices in our nation's capital.

Senior Editor Tom Field reviews the landscape of technology associations in his story "The Influence Peddlers." These organizations are well-oiled machines that promote vendor-driven technology issues to Congress.

But the voice of the CIO is not being heard.

In early 1999, the technology vendor community was becoming increasingly concerned about post-Y2K litigation. Would users sue technology companies for possible losses attributed to Y2K problems? The tech associations took up this fight-against no opposition from CIOs or users-and helped shape and pass the 1999 Y2K Act, which put a per-user cap on Y2K damages. Some in the user community said this cap gave vendors no incentive to earnestly try to fix Y2K problems.

Chief information officers should have been major players in this debate. But they weren't.

And they were equally absent in the congressional debate on immigrant workers.

H-1B is a temporary visa that allows foreigners with specialized skills to work in the United States. As we all know, there is an IT labor crunch in the market, and the technology associations stepped into this battle to lead the fight. At first glance, their position in favor of increasing the amount of foreign workers allowed into the United States would seem beneficial to CIOs.

But this bill was nearly defeated by foes who framed it solely as a scheme by technology companies to hire foreign workers at lower salaries. If a strong CIO association had joined hand in hand with the technology groups, this bill would have sailed through Congress.

Which leads to this call to action.

I am calling for the formation of CIOnet, a trade association of chief information officers. The association would be headquartered in Washington, D.C., and its mission would be to make sure issues of importance to CIOs are heard and acted on in the halls of Congress.

There would be two levels of membership in CIOnet. Full members would be chief information officers of any size company who contribute annual dues of $1,000 to the association. Full members must have the title of chief information officer on their business card. Any technology vendor that contributes $10,000 annually to CIOnet could be an associate member of the association.

Full members would elect a president and a board of directors. The association would hold an annual conference to set the agenda for CIOs in the coming year.

That conference would be held each year the day before the president's State of the Union address. Associate members could exhibit at the conference.

So, what do you say? Should we start CIOnet? Are you willing to join? Drop me an e-mail at gbeach@cio.com and let's get moving. Time's a wasting!

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