Editorial: More headlines than help

FCW shares hopeful and depressing points about the main players at a Doan hearing

Federal agencies face tough issues, particularly those related to procurement. But you wouldn’t know that if you had attended a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing earlier this month, which featured Lurita Doan, administrator of the General Services Administration, in a starring role.

The four-hour session was the administrator’s second appearance before the committee in the past few months. The session seemed to be misfocused on partisan political issues that might have been helpful to those involved in political campaigns, but it failed to improve government procurement and management.

Here are our thoughts on what was hopeful — and depressing — about the major players at the hearing.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee:
Hopeful: Waxman has raised the visibility of oversight and highlighted some of the procurement issues that agencies are facing.
Depressing: The committee, so far, has focused on issues that make headlines rather than issues that make a difference. Waxman’s views about government procurement are different from those of his predecessor. That’s fine, but Waxman’s vision has not become clear in the hearings or in the handful of speeches he has given.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), ranking minority member on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee:
Hopeful: Davis has long been a guiding force for government procurement and reform. He has been a moderating influence on some of the more rabid partisans on both sides of the aisle.
Depressing: Davis can get sucked into the fracas. During his opening statement at the Doan hearing, he went on about Valerie Plame Wilson, whose difficulties had nothing to do with the Doan hearing.

Hopeful: Doan seems increasingly committed to the task of focusing on agency customers and ensuring that they get what they need to do their work. At one point in the hearing, Doan was asked what was her biggest challenge, and she spoke eloquently about the procurement workforce.
Doan has not yet put to rest the findings that she violated the Hatch Act. She often seems unable to listen, to a degree that even Republican supporters commented on it.

Those depressing thoughts are serious ones. We hope the issues behind them will be addressed.


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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