Editorial: A whole new world

In some ways, 10 years doesn't seem that long. But in our high-tech world, 10 years is a lifetime. One clear illustration: When we recently searched for the 1994 "Computer Chaos: Billions Wasted Buying Federal Computer Systems" report, it was nowhere to be found online because it had been published before the Web pervaded our lives. Only paper copies existed, and those were hard to come by.

Things have changed dramatically in the federal technology community since the report was published. (To the best of our knowledge, we are giving "Computer Chaos" its first online presence; find it on FCW.com Download's Data Call at www.fcw.com/download.) It laid the groundwork for the technological world we live in today. "Computer Chaos" generated the Information Technology Management Reform Act, which later became the Clinger-Cohen Act.

As we approach the act's 10th anniversary, we feel it is a good time to review and assess it. The following pages contain some of those assessments.

  • Paul Brubaker, who worked for former Sen. William Cohen (R-Maine) at the time, provides an overview of the "Computer Chaos" report, how it came to fruition and the political maneuvering that facilitated the overturning of the Brooks Act and the dawning of the Clinger-Cohen Act.
  • Steve Kelman, a Federal Computer Week columnist, former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the man credited as the architect of procurement reform, offers his assessment of what has been accomplished…and what remains to be done.
  • Bruce McConnell, an FCW columnist and former chief of information policy and technology at the Office of Management and Budget, looks at the events that helped guide the law and shape IT policies.
  • J. Timothy Sprehe, an FCW columnist and a former OMB official, provides his assessment of what Clinger-Cohen has accomplished.

But wait! There's more. Later this week, Input, a market research firm, and WMET 1160 AM, a Washington, D.C., radio station, will host a forum on Clinger-Cohen during which principals will offer their views. FCW will cover the event and have additional viewpoints in upcoming issues.

If you have comments about the Clinger-Cohen Act, send them to letters@fcw.com.

— Christopher J. Dorobek

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