The role of a government vendor in a recession


It is inspiring for me to see the determination of government employees working to provide us the level of service we have all grown accustomed to even in the midst of "The Great Recession". I don’t need to tell you that the need for government services goes up dramatically during a recession, while the budgets available to government agencies usually shrinks. This recession is no different; though perhaps more to the extreme.

Politicians and government workers are painfully aware that business as usual is not an option anymore. In some instances it isn’t about making programs more efficient, it is realizing some programs cannot exist as they have for decades; the money simply isn’t there. The public is being asked to decide what services they consider vital to government and which services we can no longer afford.

This brings me back to the government worker who is diligently working to reinvent how government operates. Saying they have their work cut out for them is an understatement. Innovative government workers and politicians are not only looking within for solutions, but are reaching out to industry and the vendor community for ideas and solutions. Partnerships between government and private industry are more important than ever. Adopting cutting edge technologies already used in industry, while not the silver bullet, can help alleviate the painful cuts necessary to continue providing the services we all feel are important while the same time doing so with limited budgets.

A couple weeks ago I attended the Los Angeles Technology Conference which SAS sponsored. Towards the end of the second day a senior Los Angeles County IT executive stopped by our booth to thank us for our support. He appreciated our commitment to LA County during these tough times when they are trying to accomplish so much, so quickly, with so little resources. His heartfelt comment made me feel extremely good about what I do and the company I work for. Finding partners in the vendor community who are there during the bad times, not just the good times are not easy to find.

Many of the technology vendors who thrived during the good times are no longer in business or have been acquired by a much larger organization. Many government agencies I work with appreciate partnering with a vendor who:

  • Shows commitment not only to their agency, but to government in general. Government has unique challenges which require vendors who understand those challenges and can find creative solutions to them.
  • Will not lock you into a technology stack, rather will work within your existing infrastructure.
  • Is not an acquisition target, leaving you to wonder who actually owns the relationship with your agency and whether the technology you bought will continue to receive the R&D investment you expect. Priorities change after an acquisition…

Two things I know for sure, government will be very different in five years and so will the technology industry. Government agencies are looking partners who will help them make the transition and will be there during the difficult times, not just the good times.


About Author

Brian Whittington

Systems Engineer Manager, the State & Local Government

As a Systems Engineer Manager of the State & Local Government practice at SAS, Brian Whittington is in charge of pre-sales engineering and customer retention in the western United States. By understanding the challenges and opportunities facing state and local government his engineering team architects solutions that really make a difference to citizens and policymakers. Brian’s team also works closely with our customers to make sure they get full value out of their investment in SAS technology and professional services. During his 8 years at SAS, Brian has worked in various technical sales roles applying SAS’s business intelligence, data integration and analytical capabilities to solve real-world business problems. He was instrumental in the rollout of SAS 9 to customers in the Western United States and for the past 6 years has focused exclusively on applying his knowledge and skills within state and local government. Brian holds a degree from California State University Fullerton and resides in West Linn, Oregon where he enjoys hiking, fishing, and reading but most of all, spending time with his wife and two young children.

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