Power Players | 1 - Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)

Rep. Henry Waxman

Position: Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Tenure: Waxman was first elected to the House in 1975.
2006 Power Player position: Tied for No. 1 with Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.)

What he has done: Soon after the 110th Congress convened, Waxman took charge of one of the most influential committees overseeing government information technology. Waxman changed the name from the Government Reform Committee to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, presaging a shift in focus. Indeed, oversight has been the committee’s mantra under Waxman, who took center stage with his Accountability in Contracting Act. The bill, its sponsor said, “changes federal acquisition law to require agencies to limit the use of abuse-prone contracts, to increase transparency and accountability in federal contracting, and to protect the integrity of the acquisition workforce.” Proponents are optimistic that Congress will gain greater control over a growing government-industrial complex. Opponents worry that the changes hearken back to the days of the Brooks Act and the rule of bureaucracy.

Challenges ahead: Few pundits believe the Democrats will lose control of the House in the November 2008 elections, so Waxman is likely to keep his post. But Capitol Hill remains a partisan place, and it’s not easy getting things done. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be finding ways to help agencies achieve their missions more effectively. However, if Waxman’s contracting reforms are implemented, any subsequent problems will be blamed on the Waxman Act, just as many people associate today’s contracting problems with the procurement reforms of a decade ago.

FCW power forecast: FCW’s editors have already put Waxman on the 2008 Power Player list.

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