Editorial: Looking for leadership

Leadership. It seems so simple, yet we all know how difficult it is.

In my Oct. 29 editorial, I urged Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to use his position in Congress and his years of experience to provide guidance to the government workforce.

That editorial has spurred some comments, one of which appears on Page 35 of this issue.

As an aside, I noted in the editorial that Waxman would not sit down with Federal Computer Week editors and reporters to talk about his goals, saying, “With few exceptions, Waxman has not spoken at government or industry forums. His staff rarely speaks about these issues.” In a notable exception, Waxman recently agreed to speak to the Professional Services Council.

Despite the difficulties, there are some core leadership tenets that would go a long way toward fostering a discussion about government management and procurement. Among those tenets:

  • Vision. Determine what you want to accomplish.

  • Communication. Tell people the expectations you have for them.

  • Oversight. Follow up to make sure they are accomplishing those

  • objectives.

True leadership goes beyond those points, but they are a good place to start.

Most people agree that some sort of government oversight is necessary. After all, the government is doing the public’s work and spending the public’s money.

But agencies are increasingly stymied because they don’t know what is expected of them.

We do not subscribe to the notion that politicians simply play politics. We have high expectations for politicians and believe they are in an honorable profession — a public service.

We also believe there is a unique opportunity now for leaders to emerge, particularly in the coming transition between presidential administrations. We hope politicians take this opportunity to live up to people’s highest expectations.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


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    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

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