Mike Hettinger, TechAmerica’s new senior vice president for the public sector, joined the District-based industry association last week. (Jeffrey MacMillan/For Capital Business)

Mike Hettinger is rebuilding at TechAmerica, where he started work last week as senior vice president for the public sector.

He arrives as the organization battles its former public sector executives. TechAmerica has filed a lawsuit against the Information Technology Industry Counci l and several former TechAmerica employees who jumped ship to help ITI start a public sector group, claiming they interfered with its business advantage.

Hettinger told reporters last week that TechAmerica is “110 percent committed to the public sector.”

“If I didn’t see [that], I wouldn’t be here,” he added.

Hettinger joins TechAmerica from the Software and Information Industry Association, where he was vice president of the public sector innovation group. He has also worked at Grant Thornton, Patton Boggs and on Capitol Hill, including serving as chief of staff to former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.).

He said last week that TechAmerica will continue to focus on issues such as big data and cloud computing, but plans to expand its scope, particularly in areas such as education and health care.

TechAmerica is also working on IT acquisition reform, an issue Hettinger said has received much more attention since the problematic roll out of HealthCare.gov.

“I think it’s already been a catalyst,” he said. “Most of these IT failures, the general public never sees.”

TechAmerica is in the process of hiring an official to handle state and local public sector work, Hettinger said.

GAO protests down in 2013

After years of growth, Government Accountability Office protests dipped in fiscal 2013, according to a new report released by the agency.

The GAO reported that the number of protests filed hit 2,429 for the year, down 2 percent from 2,475 in fiscal 2012.

In 2009 and 2010, protests surged by double-digit percentages, but growth slowed in 2012. Still, the dip is the first since fiscal 2006, according to GAO records.

Ralph White , the GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law, attributed the decline to a decrease in contract spending.

“At some point, as the amount of dollars spent on federal contracts decreases, I would expect that there’s some corresponding decrease in protests,” he said.

What stayed roughly the same was the percentage of protests the GAO upheld. Over the past several years, that number has remained within the 16 percent to 19 percent range. In 2013, the GAO backed 17 percent of protests.

GAO rejects TCS protest

The GAO has denied a protest filed by Annapolis-based TeleCommunication Systems against a Department of Homeland Security buying agreement made with McLean-based iSys for commercial cellular wireless managed services.

According to the GAO, iSys had received a better evaluation but also proposed a higher price of $65.1 million, to TCS’s $59.2 million.

TCS contended that DHS’s evaluation was “unreasonable and inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation,” but the GAO said it found no basis to sustain the protest.

GAO denies ManTech protest

The GAO has also rejected a protest filed by Fairfax-based ManTech International’s Houston unit against a NASA award to McLean-based Science Applications International Corp. for safety and mission assurance engineering services.

The two contractors were the only bidders and received the same ratings. ManTech’s evaluated price was $90.2 million, SAIC’s $87.5 million.

ManTech argued that NASA made multiple evaluation failings, including unreasonably deeming SAIC’s proposal technically acceptable and unreasonably evaluating SAIC’s past performance. But the GAO found no basis to sustain the protest.