Katrina prompts self-examination

Nick Wakeman

Hurricane Katrina and the resulting devastation along the Gulf Coast stand as stark reminders that technology can go only so far in the face of Mother Nature.

Although it likely will be months before any answers emerge on what went wrong and why, it seems readily apparent that there is plenty of blame to go around. Katrina likely will be a watershed moment in American history, perhaps as great as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In this issue, the coverage in our Datastream section focuses on the initial response by contractors and agencies. But going forward, you'll see us writing about the rebuilding and the continuing reverberations.

Congressional hearings and other government investigations are on tap, and it isn't hard to imagine that nearly every agency will have to re-examine how it prepares and responds to a disaster.

Katrina, of course, wasn't the only news that broke in the last two weeks. Science Applications International Corp. has filed for an initial public offering and will no longer be able to call itself an employee-owned company. The move was necessary for the company to continue competing in a rapidly consolidating marketplace.

Our cover stories also illuminate two trends that will affect the market. First, Staff Writer Doug Beizer examines what to expect now that nearly all the agencies have an enterprise architecture and how these architectures will influence spending.

Staff Writer Roseanne Gerin explores the possibility of more companies separating the roles of chairman and chief executive officer. Though most companies have one person with both titles, some are beginning to divide the roles. Gerin runs through the pros and cons of such a move.

Whether driven by a hurricane or by competitive pressures, change is constantly afoot in the government market.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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