Govt. contractors unite to counter image woes

WASHINGTON: Fearing increased oversight from the newly elected Democratic-controlled Congress, the Coalition for Government Procurement (CGP), a trade group representing government product and service suppliers, is planning a PR and marketing campaign to promote its members as responsible companies and not stereotypical "corporate evildoers."

WASHINGTON: Fearing increased oversight from the newly elected Democratic-controlled Congress, the Coalition for Government Procurement (CGP), a trade group representing government product and service suppliers, is planning a PR and marketing campaign to promote its members as responsible companies and not stereotypical "corporate evildoers."

The CGP in January announced it would form a new group called the Council on Responsible Contracting (CORC), which plans to initiate a campaign promoting contracting associated with the General Services Administration (GSA) - the government agency that negotiates prices for products and services purchased by other agencies - as well as government contractors in general.

"There is now a near-unanimous opinion that the new Congress will look upon contractors with the sort of contempt usually reserved for those who steal candy from babies," CGP EVP Larry Allen wrote in a letter to prospective CORC participants in January.

"[The] generic tag of 'government contractors' rates on par with tobacco companies and corporate evildoers such as Enron," he continued, although the major contracting scandals, like Enron, have involved non-GSA contractors.

The campaign will target the Defense Department and other government customers, members of Congress, the General Accounting Office, and executive branch officials.

Allen told PRWeek the CGP was still working to sign up participants, but that he hoped to announce the campaign, which could have a budget of at least $250,000, at an upcoming GSA conference in Orlando in May.

No PR firm is yet attached to the effort, though Qorvis Communications late last year arranged a conference call for coalition members to discuss the benefits of a PR campaign. Allen said the CGP will be speaking with at least one other firm about potentially representing the initiative.

GSA is the largest agency handling government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs), but not the only one - NASA is another - and in recent years has been "losing" business to other types of GWACs, Allen noted.

A GSA spokesperson was not able to immediately comment on the CGP's planned campaign, but said that the GSA generally looks upon and supports contractors as "partners."

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