Friend of Barack

Michael Robertson was a baseball player in his youth, he tells Senior Editor Matthew Weigelt in an interview for this week’s cover story. Says his highlight as a college athlete was catching a perfect game. That’s not the most important player on the field, mind you; the pitcher is the guy who invariably gets the credit for being perfect. But the catcher is usually the first teammate the flawless pitcher thanks.

Now Robertson is taking his signal-calling skills to the General Services Administration, where he was recently installed in three (count ‘em, 3) key positions: associate director of governmentwide policy, chief acquisition officer and White House liaison.

The first two jobs are the catching and throwing equivalents at GSA. Here Robertson doesn’t have a lot of minor league training, Matthew reports. But you don’t get to this level of influence in the federal government unless you are well equipped to play the bureaucratic game. And the third job, it seems, will give Robertson the political leverage he’ll need to perform the other two.

The reasoning here is fairly self-evident, if you know one more thing about him. Robertson is an Obama man. We don’t know if he plays basketball with the athletic commander-in-chief, or even if he can take him off the dribble. We do know that he’s been with Barack Obama since he ran for the Senate in 2004, in political, legislative and legal counsel roles. In other words, he knows how to call plays that make his boss look good.

And that’s how Robertson sees his new role, he tells Matthew. Obama has made procurement reform a priority of his administration, which may play well among voters even as his notions threaten to wreak havoc with the system of buying goods and services for the government. Robertson’s job is not only to catch Obama’s strikes and curve balls, but to let the pitcher know when he’s getting seriously off track.

Also this week, we have two reports on the recent court ruling that put Microsoft’s Word back in its box. A federal judge ordered the software giant to stop selling its flagship word-processing software because of what the plaintiff, i4i of Canada, called a willful infringement of one of its patents. Trudy Walsh of our sister group, the GCN Lab, looks at the word processing alternatives should this legal tussle continues. And John Stein Monroe provides a sample of the many comments we’ve gotten on this story from people who use Word but aren’t all that happy about it.

About the Author

David Rapp is editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week and VP of content for 1105 Government Information Group.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.