- By Adam Mazmanian
- Nov 30, 2014
As a senior policy advisor for Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Benjamin Rhodeside helped cultivate support for the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act. The bipartisan bill seeks to enhance and consolidate CIO authorities and codify federal IT policies such as data center consolidation and strategic sourcing for software acquisition.
Rhodeside also worked on the Reforming Federal Procurement of IT Act introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Connolly and others. It would raise the threshold for certain simplified IT procurements from $100,000 to $500,000 and establish a U.S. Digital Government Office to be led by the U.S. CIO.
Rhodeside has won plaudits on both sides of the aisle for being a quick study and having a collegial temperament. Rich Beutel, senior counsel for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, credits Rhodeside as being "instrumental in garnering bipartisan support for [FITARA]," adding that, "in an age of cynicism and acrimony, Ben has always had an open mind and a cordial approach to even the most intractable and challenging public policy challenges."
Rhodeside started working in Congress as an intern and then a staffer on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. In the Senate, Rhodeside said, he "got a crash course on some of these issues that frankly are not always the most headline-grabbing," including government administration, procurement policy and IT.
He said there are many opportunities for bipartisan engagement on issues of governance because they don't play into the philosophical divisions between the parties. "Most members up here want to achieve better outcomes for lower costs," Rhodeside said.
However, he is concerned about continuing gaps in lawmakers' understanding of the connection between technology and program delivery. "It's a little surprising," he said, that some senior officials think of "technology as something you can bifurcate into a separate box as a component of a program" and not as something that can make or break its success.
As people become accustomed to accessing government services online, he added, "I hope that you'll start seeing all the way up to agency heads a real understanding of the importance of getting technology right."
Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.
Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.
Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.