Editorial: IT's power players
That sound you may have heard recently was the vacuum created by a number of high-level departures that could have a significant impact on the federal information technology community.
The first departure occurred in September, when Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) was promoted to the powerful House Rules Committee from the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee.
Putnam, widely considered a rising star on Capitol Hill, did a great job of picking up where retired Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) left off — and more. That is perhaps best illustrated by Putnam's amendment to the Clinger-Cohen Act, which raises the importance of information security in the procurement process. As of press time, that provision was included in the intelligence reform measure that is making its way through Congress.
When Putnam left the subcommittee, insiders acknowledged the departure. But they said the subcommittee's able staff would continue the agenda. That was until Bob Dix, the subcommittee's staff director, announced he was leaving for the private sector.
Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), committee chairman, has suggested that he will be overseeing the issues Putnam previously spearheaded. We would not question Davis' abilities in any way. He has proved to be a beacon for many IT issues, most notably procurement reform. But there are limits to what one person can do.
Meanwhile, Joiwind Ronen will resign as executive director of the American Council on Technology and the Industry Advisory Council.
In recent years, ACT, and specifically IAC, have played influential roles in developing policy and ensuring that industry officials have a voice.
An uneasy truce has existed between ACT and IAC since the mid-1990s when the two organizations battled for dominance. Ronen's goal was to put ACT in the lead position. But industry participants emphasized that the majority of the membership dues that fund the organizations come from the industry side.
In both of these situations, the upcoming year will be important to ensure that IT issues receive the focus, attention and priority they need.