By Marie Griffin
The government sector of b-to-b media is facing a perfect storm, said Anne Armstrong, president and group publisher of the 1105 Government Information Group. "Since Congress has failed to pass a new budget, federal agencies can only spend money on `continuing' projects. They can't start anything new," she said.
In addition to the stalemate on the budget, "there's a lot of uncertainty because of the presidential election next year," Armstrong said. "Plus, the nation is at war." The seven competing publications Armstrong tracks in government IT are off 17% from last year.
Armstrong oversees Federal Computer Week, the No. 1 magazine in the space, and Government Computer News, the No. 2 title, which 1105 Media acquired from PostNewsweek Tech Media last December. "Out of our competitive set, FCW was the only book that was not down by at least 14% through October, and FCW was only up 1%," she said.
Meanwhile, 2007 has not been a great year for state governments, either. In California, for example, a nonpartisan report released last month showed that the state is facing its most serious budget crisis since 2003.
"We're definitely feeling the downward tug," said Don Pearson, exec VP of e.Republic, a media and information company that focuses on state and local governments. Although the company's flagship, Government Technology, is down in pages, "we are getting growth in our smaller niche publications Emergency Management and Public CIO," he said.
"We're still optimistic about state and local governments, but what's really exciting today is the regional sector," Pearson said. Various jurisdictions are joining together to share the costs and benefits of technology, which, in turn, makes them larger and more attractive potential customers for technology suppliers.
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