Old and new thoughts on R&D

Since Arthur Cebrowski died last month, I have spent a lot of time re-reading his writings. They are so good that we decided to share them. You can read an excerpt of his last published thoughts on the following pages.

Cebrowski, a decorated Navy vice admiral who most recently served as director of the Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation, was skilled at conveying complex thoughts in ways that are easy to understand. I found myself returning to his ideas hours or days after I read them. He will be missed, and his shoes will be difficult to fill.

As you read the excerpt on the following pages, it will become clear that one of the issues close to Cebrowski's heart was research and development.

"R&D is really quite nuanced. There is a texture to it," he wrote. "As [DOD] moves into a period of uncertainty, discovery and invention are increasingly important."

We have used Federal Computer Week's editorial page several times this year to stress the importance of government funding for information technology R&D. Therefore, we were momentarily heartened last month when House Democrats published their Innovation Agenda, which includes additional government spending for R&D, among other priorities.

However, we were quickly reminded of how issues can get sidetracked in the partisan sniping that seems to define so much of politics these days.

But we give credit when credit is due. Our hopeful side says that Democrats included R&D spending in the Innovation Agenda as a way of raising the visibility of what they believe is an important issue. Our cynical side says the agenda is merely a way to appease IT executives and score political points.

If the former perception is accurate, kudos, and we look forward to progress on what we believe is a critical issue. If the latter motivation is true, however, we cringe at the prospect of R&D spending getting mired in the partisan bog.

-- 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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