Editorial: 4 ways to improve government IT

The annual Federal List is one of our favorite issues. The list format is accessible, but we also focus on important topics.

This year, we settled on the Survivors Guide theme that comes from these trying -- yet invigorating -- times. Not only are organizations dealing with a constantly changing landscape, but the speed of those changes seems to increase.

As more than casual observers, we offer our list for improving government information technology (with more than a little help from several friends).

oneTeach IT people to speak English

We get caught up in our own worlds, and the IT community is no exception. But unfortunately, the community has created its own language. The acronyms, techie terms and lingo end up being detrimental to accomplishing the true task, which is to use IT to accomplish an agency's mission. Although the goal is to speak English, it is even more important for IT leaders to speak "mission."

oneGive CIOs true authority

IT is important to federal agencies, and yet it is only tacitly acknowledged. IT enables agencies to accomplish their missions. That importance should be demonstrated in how agencies are organized. The chief information officer should have a seat at the table and be a key part of an agency's management team.

oneEqual pay for equal work

Federal workers face many changes. They increasingly have to compete for their jobs. They face potential changes to personnel rules that would link pay more directly to performance rather than to time spent in government. If federal employment becomes more like private-sector employment, federal pay should become more like private-sector pay.

oneGet it right

The General Services Administration has conducted a campaign to get government contracting right. GSA began the Get It Right initiative following some contract abuses. Most people agree that procurement reform in recent years has helped agencies accomplish their missions. It would be a travesty if a handful of bad procurement cases were to spoil those gains. We hope GSA will continue to enhance its campaign.

— Christopher J. Dorobek

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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