Editorial: Opportunities abound

The Bush administration’s pandemic plan, released earlier this month, is rife with opportunities for the government information technology community. Unfortunately, it is also rife with potential pitfalls.

The plan largely relies on cross-government information sharing and effective telework plans — two areas that have not been the government’s forte. Furthermore, the administration does not seem to be taking the necessary steps to implement the plan in a meaningful way.

Some health officials quoted by Federal Computer Week last week warned that the administration is not providing the necessary funds that would allow them to develop such an information-sharing system and that the timetable the administration has set is overly ambitious.

The federal government has a real opportunity to shine as the entity that can bring together officials at all levels. But it does not have a good track record in this area.

Several news stories should remind us of the important work that is still on the agenda for government agencies. Certainly one is the ongoing debate about the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina last year, a debate that becomes increasingly critical as we near the start of yet another Atlantic hurricane season.

Then there was the recent testimony by FBI Director Robert Mueller before a Senate committee in which he said that the FBI still does not have an accurate terrorist watch list and that it will be “some time” before it does. In fact, according to one report, the watch list seems to have a tendency to mistake government employees and U.S. service members for foreign terrorists.

The watch list was one part of the post-Sept. 11 efforts to share information among federal, state and local governments. Yet more than four years later, it apparently still does not effectively carry out its mission of helping identify potential terrorists.

We all understand that sharing information across various organizations is not easy. On the contrary, it is quite difficult. It can only happen if there is a clear mandate — and money — that gives it a chance of success.

Opportunities abound.


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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