Editorial: Change management

We hope the new Democratic leaders will carry out the effective oversight tradition exemplified by Reps. Davis' and Waxman's leadership of the House Government Reform Committee

Elections have consequences. Few people appreciate that more than government workers and contractors. And the midterm elections last week will have consequences.

Some of them are obvious. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who has led the House Government Reform Committee, will relinquish that mantle — most likely to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee’s ranking minority member. And other committees involved in overseeing and budgeting IT programs will change hands.

Lawmakers, of course, pay careful attention to the polls. One of the issues that is on voters’ minds — and therefore lawmakers’, too — is corruption. Almost three out of four voters said corruption and scandals in government were extremely or very important, according to exit poll data. Only 6 percent said it was not important at all.

In most instances, voters were probably thinking about high-profile cases such as Jack Abramoff and former Reps. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) and Bob Ney (R-Ohio). But people were also concerned about contracting problems during Hurricane Katrina relief operations, and some voters may have even heard about David Safavian and his arrest.

Given those cases, it would be easy to extrapolate that government is rife with corruption and needs a good cleaning. Those problems are indeed disturbing. But people must also remember what is working well.

Davis’ leadership on the Government Reform Committee has been stellar. He has been a strong independent voice with a keen eye on making government operate better. And he has a deep understanding of information technology and procurement.

We hope and believe that Waxman will keep the focus on giving agencies the tools they need to operate better, faster and more efficiently. One area ripe for improvement is the budget process. If Democratic leaders want to improve efficiency governmentwide, they need to first revamp congressional budget oversight.

Any lasting changes will require cooperation. Waxman and Davis can set the example for how the rest of the Congress should behave. We believe there are opportunities, and we look forward to hearing the new leadership’s thoughts on how to improve the business of government.


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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