Editorial: The need for IT advice

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We were deeply disappointed when we heard that the Bush administration had decided to allow the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) to expire.

PITAC has been around for more than a decade. The group was established by an executive order and chartered by Congress to guide the administration in its efforts to speed the development and adoption of technologies "vital for American prosperity in the 21st century," according to a White House press release announcing PITAC members in 2003.

PITAC handled important issues. Its most recent report, for example, looked at the lack of IT research and development in the United States. The report warns that the nation is at a tipping point "with generation-long consequences for scientific leadership, economic competitiveness and national security if we fail to act with vision and commitment."

Panels like PITAC can serve a vital role in public policy by providing elected officials with candid, nonpartisan perspectives on complex issues. Another example of a similar panel is the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, better known as the 9/11 Commission. But PITAC has been playing that public policy role for years.

Worse yet the Bush administration has put forward nothing more than pabulum in its comments about PITAC. "The administration values external advice on IT and will continue to seek it," said a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology. "After renewing the PITAC charter twice in the previous term, the administration is evaluating the best mechanism for providing this advice. No decisions on what that should be have been made at this time."

The statement implies that the administration does not consider these issues important. We certainly hope that is not the case. The future of IT is important, and this administration — or any administration — needs expert advice. We hope there is some formal mechanism for those voices to be heard.

Meanwhile, at the very least, the president's team ought to do a better job of keeping the public and the IT community in the loop on this matter.

— Christopher J. Dorobek

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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