Elections force change in chairs

With Congress turning over to Republican hands, two lawmakers who are big supporters of information technology are likely to be named to head committees that have a major role in crafting IT-related policies.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is expected to become the chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, replacing Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), whose party lost the Senate majority in congressional elections Nov. 5.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who is now chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, is seeking the chairmanship of the full committee and is expected to take technology issues with him.

"Rep. Davis will make the case why he's the best choice for the Government Reform chair, based on his many accomplishments as chairman of the D.C. and Technology and Procurement Policy subcommittees," said David Marin, his spokesman.

"His interest and experience in these issues will continue, and he'll want to maintain his legislative ownership over them," Marin added.

Collins worked for Sen. William Cohen (R-Maine), the co-author of the Clinger-Cohen Act, but she did not work directly on the legislation that has become a cornerstone for IT in government.

Nevertheless, she has always had an interest in this area, according to Paul Brubaker, who worked on Cohen's staff as well.

"She knew what we were doing, when we were doing that," said Brubaker, chief executive officer of Aquilent Inc. and a former deputy chief information officer at the Defense Department. "She was really supportive. She is well-versed on issues related to Clinger-Cohen and would be supportive of its concepts."

The Clinger-Cohen Act instructed agencies to treat technology as an investment and said agencies should tie those investments to results. In addition to calling for agencies to appoint CIOs, the act requires agencies to create capital planning processes and architectures that guide IT buys.

Collins, as chairwoman of the committee, would put implementation of Clinger-Cohen "high on the agenda," he said.

Collins would become only the third woman to chair a standing committee in the Senate. The others were Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.), who chaired the Senate Labor Committee in the 1990s, and Sen. Hattie Carraway (D-Ark.), the first woman elected to the Senate, who chaired a legislative committee that no longer exists, according to Don Ritchie, the Senate historian.

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