Week in Review

Chairman Waxman?

A favorite Washington pastime these days is sharing predictions on the outcomes of the Nov. 7 midterm elections, now just weeks away.

We are one week into "page-gate," the brouhaha about former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and accusations that he had inappropriate online chats with young congressional pages. The affair sent many prognosticators back to their crystal balls to assess what effect the scandal would have on voters.

For the first time since 1994, analysts suggest it is possible that either the House or Senate could change hands. For the government information technology community, the prospect of changing leadership raises questions.

For example, who would be the champion of government IT?

If the balance of power changes hands in the House, IT-savvy Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) would have to give up the chairmanship of the Government Reform Committee. Most observers expect that the committee¹s current ranking member, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), would take over the panel¹s leadership. And that would likely mean more oversight.

One just has to check the minority members' Government Reform Committee Web site for an idea of some of the issues a Waxman-led group might investigate. The site features releases with headlines such as "Democratic Truth Squad Introduces 'Clean Contracting Act'" and "Homeland Security Contracts Waste Hundreds of Millions of Taxpayer Dollars." The voters will have their say in about a month, just in time for the presidential campaigns to kick into high gear.

Other noteworthy news

An annual contract activity report revealed that the General Services Administration is one of the biggest users of NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement III contract.... The Small Business Administration issued a notice that it intends to waive a regulation that gives small-business PC manufacturers an advantage in selling them to the federal government.... Most agencies have chief information officers, but those CIOs have not evolved into the kind of strategic leaders that William Cohen said he envisioned 10 years ago when he co-sponsored the Clinger-Cohen Act.... The Office of Government Ethics largely agrees with the Acquisition Advisory Panel's recommendations for fostering ethical relationships between agencies and contractors.... The Department of Veterans Affairs awarded IBM a $16 million contract to improve security in the VA's information technology organization.... Laptop computers in the Homeland Security Department's Office of the Inspector General are still susceptible to cyberattacks despite steps taken to strengthen security, according to the IG's office.... After years of controversy, the Energy Department decided to lessen its reliance on polygraph testing in screening prospective counterintelligence employees.... The Internal Revenue Service has not done enough to protect the privacy of the country's 130 million taxpayers, according to a Treasury Department IG report.... Circumstances created the perfect storm for bloggers to ensure passage of a bill to create an online public database of federal grants and contract awards, according to a panel of political experts.... The Defense Logistics Agency's network of 19 distribution sites can now track supplies with radio frequency identification technology.... The National Institute of Standards and Technology released a draft publication that highlights security and privacy risks associated with RFID technology.

A roundup of the week's news, complete with links to the original stories, can be found on FCW.com Download's Week in Review.

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