Editorial: Succession planning

By the time you read this, you probably will know whether Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) — whom we once referred to as the alpha wonk — is staying in the House or leaving for a high-paying job leading the National Federation of Independent Business.

If Davis decides to leave, it will be a loss for the information technology community and Congress.

Regardless of Davis' decision, the IT community needs to focus on building a better relationship with lawmakers. The IT community needs a broader and deeper roster of lawmakers and staffers who know, understand and appreciate IT.

Aside from Davis, IT seems to lack strong proponents.

In fact, among members of Congress, few lawmakers — Republican or Democrat — understand or care about IT issues. Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Government Management, Finance and Accountability Subcommittee, has done an excellent job of maintaining a spotlight on financial management and the role of chief financial officers. In the Senate, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) have been visible on some government IT issues. But they have not carried the mantle the way Davis has.

Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), who was chairman of the Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee, seemed to have an interest in those issues. But he has since moved on.

Congress plays a critical role. Yet scores of important IT issues don't seem to have a congressional leader, especially if Davis leaves.

Some observers were already concerned about Davis carrying the burden of all IT issues.

If he goes, the IT community would have a yeoman's task educating Congress about the importance of IT. If he stays, this close call would be a reminder that those issues should not rest in the hands of one person, even an IT maestro.

These issues are important. If he stays, Davis will undoubtedly remain as the conductor of the orchestra, but it is time to find additional members for what has been a one-man band.

— 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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