Editorial: Innovation matters

The government should play a significant role in information technology innovation

One of the most important issues to the country — and to the government information technology community — is innovation. It should be a central part of any presidential campaign platform.

As a political issue, innovation would seem to be something akin to apple pie: Everyone is in favor of it. A more thorny question concerns the government’s role in promoting high-technology innovation. We continue to believe that the government should play a significant role.

The government is often chided for its lack of innovation. That belies the fact that the Internet, which has transformed the world, was largely a government-funded innovation.

Today, the federal government has largely outsourced innovation to the private sector. There is a valuable role for the private sector to play in innovation. However, private-sector innovation is generally focused on research and development that can produce something sooner rather than later. The government can have the luxury of time to let researchers explore the realm of the possible — or even the impossible.

The  Bush administration has been touting its American Competitiveness Initiative for more than two years. Meanwhile, the Democratic House leadership proposed its Innovation Agenda. Both have mostly gone nowhere.

Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, a Democratic presidential candidate, recently laid out her innovation agenda at a speech in the Silicon Valley.  Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, both Republican candidates for president, have also made investing in technology a major portion of their agendas.

The government can play a vital role in helping spur innovation. Technology and innovation continue to be powerful forces for making the world a better place. On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy set the goal of putting a man on the moon within a decade. Today, the next great frontier involves information technology.

This is a critical issue not only for the government IT community, but also for the country.


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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