The news of 2009: From buzz to bust

Some news stories have more resonance than others. What seems so pressing this week might be forgotten by the New Year, at which point a story from July might still be playing out. Such are the hazards for the editors of Federal Computer Week who prowl the Web each week, checking news sites, reader forums and other venues to look for what we call the Buzz of the Week. Here is a look at how some of this year’s picks have played out.

Lest we forget…

IT wheelbarrows ready for shovel-ready projects (Feb. 20)
A quick survey of the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, acquisition central for most agencies, shows a steady stream of solicitations — and sole-source awards — for stimulus-powered technology projects. A later Buzz item noted that some state governments were having trouble spending the money quickly enough to satisfy their constituents.

Kundra mania! (March 6)
For a while, Vivek Kundra, President Barack Obama’s chief information officer, got more attention in the mainstream press than Tiger Woods behind the wheel of an Escalade. Nine months later, the coverage has ebbed, but Kundra still has stage presence.

Swine flu news infects social media (May 1)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed their social-media chops when they turned to Twitter, YouTube and other services to spread the news about the spread of HIN1. Stay tuned for the next installment. See also: Social-media apps defy government skeptics (June 18).

Cyber Command: So much still to know (July 2)
The Defense Department finally takes the wraps off its plans for coordinating defensive and offensive cyber operations, which only raises more questions about the ramifications in areas such as homeland security, civil liberties and international diplomacy.

In cybersecurity, everyone’s a critic (Aug. 10)
Obama’s personal commitment to appoint a cybersecurity coordinator generated a lot of buzz earlier in the year. His failure to do so, as the year progressed, turned the buzz into boos.

NSPS: The final act (Oct. 16)
The issue is still on the table: Does the imminent demise of the National Security Personnel System represent a fatal blow to the concept of pay for performance in the federal government? We ought to find out in 2010.

Best to forget…

New energy for green tech? (Feb. 6)
Green technology, which ought to be reaping the benefits of popular sentiment and stimulus dollars, continues to be a tough sell in many quarters. Maybe next year.

President-elect Barack Obama names a chief performance officer? Yawn. (Jan. 12)
Still a yawn. The real excitement last January was the imminent appointment of a chief technology officer. Aneesh Chopra eventually got the job, but Kundra got all the headlines. See also: Chief techie: All bark and no bite? (Jan. 26).

Security in the news: Events and nonevents (April 3)
“April 1 passed without the massive attack by the much-anticipated Conficker Internet worm, but don't relax just yet,” FCW wrote at the time. OK, perhaps you can relax now.

How the Open Government Dialogue got slimed (June 4)
The birthers are still questioning Obama’s eligibility to serve as president, but they no longer stake out online policy forums, apparently having found sweeter pastures on cable news shows.

Can Johnson right the GSA ship? (June 15)
Can Martha Johnson ever get confirmed as the head of the General Services Administration? One can only hope she finally emerges from the "hold" of Senate purgatory hold.

Microsoft ruling fires up the haters (Aug. 20)
The patent case against Microsoft and its Word software caused a lot of angst among IT managers for a few weeks. But now everyone is too busy debating the merits of Windows 7. See also: Windows 7: Small step for Vista or giant leap? (Oct. 23). Kundra is ready for a fight (Sept. 21)
Last we checked,, the Obama administration’s online storefront, had failed to revolutionize the federal procurement process. But we’ll keep watching.

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications:, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.


  • Workforce
    online collaboration (elenabsl/

    Federal employee job satisfaction climbed during pandemic

    The survey documents the rapid change to teleworking postures in government under the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    OPM nominee plans focus on telework, IT, retirement

    Kiran Ahuja, a veteran of the Office of Personnel Management, told lawmakers that she thinks that the lack of consistent leadership in the top position at OPM has taken a toll on the ability of the agency to complete longer term IT modernization projects.

Stay Connected