TechAmerica, a leading technology trade association, announced Shawn Osborne, a veteran software industry executive, started today as its new president and chief executive officer.

Osborne comes to TechAmerica as an accomplished executive and someone familiar with the workings of Washington policymakers. As president, CEO and director of Ulticom Inc., he led Ulticom from a small professional services organization to become a world leader in telecommunications signaling products. He also led Ulticom through a successful public offering on the NASDAQ, where the company was recognized at one point as the fourth best performing Technology IPO of the year.

Osborne has also held a variety of positions on the board of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) including board chair, where he became a leading advocate for policies critical to member companies including the National Broadband Plan.

However, Osborne takes the helm at a turbulent time for technology trade groups in Washington, which have proliferated and then endured a series of mergers over recent years, in part to address the perception that the technology groups tend to muster more confusion than unity on Capitol Hill when it comes to shaping technology policy.

That’s what is behind the most recent reports of merger talks surrounding three of the largest technology associations–Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), TechAmerica and TechNet, circulating in a report published Feb. 21 from Politico Pro.

The reports began last fall when Phil Bond, TechAmerica’s then-CEO and the man Osborne replaces, approached TechNet about a possible merger. That reportedly triggered talks between TechNet and ITI to explore possible alignment options, according to the Politico’s report, obtained by Breaking Gov but available only to paid subscribers.

TechNet would be an attractive play for either association or possibly even a three-way merger. It is perhaps the best known of the associations among lawmakers as an important source for fundraising while ITI is generally seen as the stronger lobbying force within Washington, according to the Politico report.

TechAmerica, meanwhile, is generally best known for its dominance on behalf of companies seeking federal procurements. But it has also gained a growing reputation for providing original research and policy guidance to government through its educational arm, TechAmerica Foundation and is also seen as a leading force among state IT leaders. The three trade groups declined to comment.

TechAmerica, whose origins date back to 1943, when David Packard and 17 of Hewlett-Packard’s suppliers formed an association to secure government contracts during World War II, is itself the product of changing times–and several recent mergers.

In 2008, what was then the ITAA (Information Technology Association of America) joined forces with Government Electronics Industry Association (GEIA) and the Cyber Security Industry Alliance. The following year, Bond orchestrated the ITAA’s merger with the American Electronics Association (AeA) to become TechAmerica, which now serves 1,200 member companies.

Bond left the association in October to pursue other interests and talks since then between TechAmerica and TechNet appear to have subsided for now, according to an industry executive familiar with the talks, who would only speak off the record.

The pressures for the trade groups to potentially align remain, however, as member company executives continue to weigh the value of each trade group at a time when many lawmakers appear overwhelmed with the intricacies and rapid evolution of technology.

“Our goal at TechAmerica is to drive value for our members, deliver positive outcomes and focus on advocating for our members competitive interests,” said Peter J. Boni, Chairman of the TechAmerica Board of Directors and president and CEO of Safeguard Scientifics, Inc.

“Shawn’s superior mix of private sector and trade association experience set him apart from a pool of extremely qualified applicants,” he said.

Osborne will clearly need all of that experience and more as the tech associations continue to search for the best way forward in developing a stronger, more unified voice in Washington.