Editorial: The need for advice

The Internet age offers managers a curious paradox. They have more information coming at them than ever before, but they often find it difficult to get the information they need to make decisions.

Amid a cacophony of information and data, decision-makers and policy-makers increasingly must rely on groups that can provide objective, insightful views on important issues. A real need exists for groups that can take the time, effort and energy to look at those issues, dissect them and present them coherently and cohesively. And there is a real need for objective recommendations from such groups.

In many ways, the 9/11 Commission played that role after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The commission spent months interviewing nearly everyone involved and eventually made a number of recommendations. Although some of those recommendations fell by the wayside, the panel did an excellent job of getting people to focus on the important issues.

The Markle Foundation, which is profiled in this issue, has played a similar role on national security and health information technology issues. In the right environment, Government Accountability Office auditors and agency inspectors general can also fulfill that role by offering informed, objective advice.

The IT Resources Board (ITRB) was another such organization. It was an interagency group of federal IT officials who were responsible for assisting agencies in procuring, developing and managing major information systems.

Earlier this year, the Bush administration rescinded Executive Order 13011, which President Clinton had signed. That order was linked to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 and the IT Management Reform Act of 1996. The E-Government Act of 2002 codifed most of the provisions, except for the one that created ITRB.

The board always operated in the background, offering advice behind the scenes and shying away from publicity. But it played a useful role.

We can only hope that there is a new outlet for informed, objective advice.

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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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