At times, public and private sector organizations that fall under media scrutiny feel as if they are engaged in a bruising boxing match; withstanding a series of relentless jabs – some which inevitably land below the belt. And just when they are ready to launch a counterattack the bell dings and the round is over.
While Google’s experiment allowing news subjects to respond to articles they are featured in has limped along thus far, other efforts undertaken by news organizations to allow news subjects a viable platform have proven more substantive.
The Washington Post recently added a “Commentary” column to the Monday Business Section; an editorial outlet that culls bylines, blog entries and event presentations from regional executives and newsmakers. Because daily newspapers offer so few slots in the editorial page for private sector executive bylines, opportunities like this – where executives can speak and respond to coverage of a broader industry trend rather than provide marketing spin – are invaluable.
In today’s column, Brad Antle, president and chief executive of SI International, responded to the congressional and media scrutiny that has swirled around government contractors the past few months. Speaking unofficially on behalf of the Federal Contractor community, Antle addressed not only how – pardon the Halloween analogy – a few sly tricks and under-the-table treats can spoil the whole pumpkin batch, but also how the Contractor talent pool is integral to the current and future success of government and military operations.
Federal contractors are no doubt suffering lingering effects of the cozy relationships exposed between lobbyists and members of Congress and the Administration, as well as the unfettered flow of talent that seemed to pass between the two entities. Antle is quick to point out that, bad pumpkins aside, the Federal Contractor community depends on knowledge transfer from individuals who have experience in an Agency or military setting.
Antle himself, as referenced in the column and my earlier post on current Federal Contractor executives with a Navy background, served on active duty as a surface warfare officer for the U.S. Navy and as a naval reservist for three decades. His background in this capacity, and that of hundreds of other former federal civilian and military personnel who currently serve in the Federal Contractor workforce, is vital to meeting the need for qualified, experienced, technical personnel – especially as government-employed Baby Boomers near retirement.
Much of the innovation and success flowing through the Federal Contractor industry was on display earlier this month at The Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards – which celebrated established and fast-growing leaders such as SI International (named Contractor of the Year award in the $300 million plus category). The Awards event – as well as Antle’s commentary in the Washington Post – serve as reminders of what motivates Federal Contractor workers in providing the service they do each day.
Antle’s piece was not a call to quash legitimate investigations into wrongdoing. The Federal Contractor industry – like many others – is still grappling with ways to improve transparency and for the right blend of self- and government regulation. Instead, it was a call for a measured and appropriate response that does not undermine positive, tangible industry efforts.