Davis takes helm of key committee

Rep. Tom Davis, (R-Va.), known as one of the top information technology procurement experts in Congress, last week was named chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, a coveted position that will give him a chance to mold procurement reform across the federal government.

Davis, who has been chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology and Procurement Policy Subcommittee, said he intended to build on the legacy of reform measures already passed by that subcommittee during his tenure. He also pledged to eliminate waste and redundant government programs.

"We need to closely monitor large- dollar federal contracts to make sure we're getting what we want how we want it and maximizing the taxpayer's dollar," he said in a prepared statement. "We need to tear down the stovepipe structures that have characterized government technology systems to improve cross-agency communication and lower costs."

Although Davis could not be reached for comment, the high-tech community applauded his new role and said he would enhance opportunities to make real change in procurement regulations.

"He is going to take government technology and management to whole new dimensions," said Don Upson, Virginia's former technology secretary. "There's never been anyone being a champion of the IT budget. And now all roads have to go through Tom Davis."

"Tom Davis is the most knowledgeable member of Congress about procurement and IT issues," said Steve Kelman, professor of public management at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and Office of Federal Procurement Policy administrator during the Clinton administration. "And he has been a great supporter of an innovative, less bureaucratic procurement system."

Davis is expected to focus on acquisition reform, including the Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA), which would allow the government to pay for contracts from savings realized by efficient ones.

Davis' agenda is likely to include a range of acquisition and management issues, such as the effectiveness of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 and development of a sound telecommunications policy, according to Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

"Davis' elevation almost certainly means that there will be a SARA bill that passes the House," reforming how the government acquires services, he said. "While the government today is a net buyer of services, rather than products, the procurement rules are still product-focused. Davis' legislation will help bring the rules in line with reality."

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