Editorial: Credit where credit is due

Federal Computer Week’s Federal 100 awards program has truly proven itself during its 17-year history. Obviously, the awards recognize people who have gone above and beyond in ways that benefit all of us. Given that many accuse the media of focusing on negative news, the pages of this issue offer refreshing tales of people who made sacrifices for others.

The awards program is also an opportunity to review the past year, which often leads us in unexpected directions. It is important to remember that FCW readers inspire the awards by nominating people who have answered that call. And the judging process is almost as significant, because the information technology community performs that function, not FCW’s editors.

This year’s list is dominated by people who came together to deal with the crisis that Hurricane Katrina created. But careful readers will notice something else about the list: It includes perhaps the smallest number of industry winners in the history of the program — only 18 people. Traditionally, the judges select as many as 40 industry winners each year.

We do not believe that industry people failed to step up to the plate in the past year, so the small number presents something of a paradox. As the government outsources more work, fewer Fed 100 winners come from the companies doing that work.

Some systemic reasons exist for the scant number of industry winners. Nominations were due in the thick of the holiday season, and because of the time necessary for running this program, we could not extend that deadline. We will address those issues before next year’s nominations are due.

But the numbers are a telling sign of the times. They seem to reflect how the once-valued concept of government/industry partnerships has degraded. Federal employees are leery about nominating a vendor out of fear they will somehow be seen as endorsing these companies or that software. Vendors, meanwhile, are unlikely to nominate one another for obvious reasons.

But in years past, feds overcame their fears because they determined — and rightfully so — that some of their industry partners’ work was so exemplary that it deserved recognition.

Next year, we will try to find ways to ensure that industry work gets proper recognition.

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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