No end in sight in quest for reform

Ellen Brown got her first government job as a new lawyer at the Small Business Administration, which hired her to advise small-business owners about selling goods and services to the government. When her telephone rang, she told SBA clients about agency solicitations in the Commerce Business Daily and other ways that federal organizations bought what they needed.

In her first few days, she recalls, she told some callers not to bother selling to the government. It was too complicated, and the rewards were uncertain. "I didn't understand why anyone would want to do business with the government," she says.

Her boss overheard one such conversation and told Brown to change her tune. But she continued to wonder why vendors put up with agencies' arcane purchasing techniques, slow turnaround time and rule-ridden cultures. The situation was even worse for sellers of computers and communications networks, because their high costs and unfamiliar technology led to tighter reins on acquisitions.

But later as a Capitol Hill staffer, Brown had the opportunity to improve the process. She worked for Rep. William Clinger (R-Pa.) and helped craft the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 and then the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996. As a result of her work and that of others, the federal government in the 21st century relies on information technology policies and practices that are more modern and effective than those in force when the Federal 100 awards debuted in 1990.

Many of the dramatic changes were conceived and championed by the leaders who have been recognized with Federal 100 awards. Those people get excited — and sometimes moved — when they reflect on the changes.

"The transformation has been staggering in its depth and breadth," said Chip Mather, a former Air Force IT procurement innovator who now helps agencies with procurements as a consultant at Acquisition Solutions Inc.

"I'm sort of amazed that we did as well as we did," Brown said.

As veterans of the federal environment, whether working for the government or with a company supplying IT products and services to it

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • Login.gov moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group