IT proponent Horn won't seek re-election

The professor turned lawmaker who issued grades — many of them marginal or failing — to federal agencies on computer security, Year 2000 readiness and financial management announced he will retire from Congress.

Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.) said Sept. 4 that he will not seek a sixth term in the House next year.

"It will be a real loss," said Patrice McDermott, an analyst at the public policy organization OMB Watch. Horn, 70, "is one of the few people on the House side who gets information policy and the issues of access to government information," she said.

A former president of California State University, Long Beach, Horn won media attention by using an A through F grading system to rate agencies on their performance. He began with report cards on agency preparedness for the Year 2000 problem that was expected to cause computers to crash. Last year, he graded agencies on their ability to fend off electronic attacks, awarding on average a D-minus.

Horn also pressured agency officials to comply with requirements of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act amendments. EFOIA requires agencies to set up electronic reading rooms and take other steps to make information available electronically.

Horn ordered agency officials to appear during hearings and "took them to task for not meeting their responsibilities," McDermott said. "It's rarer and rarer that congressional committees exercise their oversight responsibilities, and he was one of the few willing to do that."

Horn was chairman of the Government Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee until this year, when he became chairman of the new Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee.

Government information technology executives developed a love-hate relationship with Horn's report cards. In the Year 2000 efforts, they often complained that report cards were not an adequate reflection of their efforts. Yet they also acknowledged that the report cards helped force senior agency managers to pay attention to the issue.

The easy-to-understand grades that Horn made public forced senior-level agency managers to focus on IT issues, said Olga Grkavac, executive vice president of the Enterprise Solutions Division of the Information Technology Association of America.

Horn's stamina has also been impressive, Grkavac said. "He held a prodigious number of hearings, and he always stayed to the bitter end."

Horn cited California's redistricting by the Democratic-controlled State Assembly as a reason in part for leaving.

"The redistricting process has created major changes" in his district, which includes the Long Beach area in Southern California, Horn said. "It is also a particularly fitting time to step down at the end of this term because virtually every goal I supported in 1992 for the nation and for the district has been achieved," he said.

A moderate Republican serving in a Democratic-leaning district, Horn narrowly won re-election last year.

Horn was president of California State University, Long Beach, for 18 years.

About the Authors

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, 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,, 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, 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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