Congress

Coburn to cut short his Senate term

Sen. Tom Coburn

Sen. Tom Coburn, a fierce critic of wasteful government spending, announced plans to retire when the Senate's current session ends in early 2015 -- two years before the end of his term.

As ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Oklahoma Republican fought to reduce spending on duplicative government programs, and in recent years worked on legislation to eliminate improper payments. He is perhaps best known for releasing his annual Waste Book, a list of programs and expenditures that he felt squandered taxpayer money.  Coburn targeted both outdated IT systems and agency conference and travel spending in recent years.

"No one has done more to awaken Americans to the threat posed by a government that chronically spends more than it takes in, and no one has worked harder at finding a solution," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

Coburn is not opposed to all spending, however. Though he has said he believes as much as half of the federal government's annual IT expenditure of $82 billion is wasted,in January he suggested that salaries for the federal IT procurement workforce could be raised to better compete with the private sector for talent.

An obstetrician by training, Coburn first came to Washington as part of the House Republican wave in 1994. He retired after three terms, then ran for the Senate in 2004. Coburn recently revealed he is in treatment for prostate cancer, but said that his illness is not behind his decision to leave the Senate.

"As a citizen, I am now convinced that I can best serve my own children and grandchildren by shifting my focus elsewhere. In the meantime, I look forward to finishing this year strong," Coburn said in a statement on his website.

It's not clear who will succeed Coburn as ranking member on the Homeland Security panel. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is next in seniority, but he's rarely seen at hearings. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are more active in the government oversight activities of the committee, and one of them might be a more likely candidate.

Coburn joins a growing group of lawmakers announcing their departures. Reps. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Jim Moran (D-Va.), whose district is home to a concentration of federal workers, and George Miller (D-Calif.), who has served 20 terms, are among those who have announced retirements this week.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


FCW in Print

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

Featured

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    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.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group