The past points to our future

20 years that made a difference

To mark our 20th year of publication, Washington Technology looks back at the last two decades and the companies, people and events that have shaped the government IT market.

Although much has happened in the past 20 years, it is as William Faulkner said, "The past isn't dead; it isn't even past."

The past reaches forward to inform and influence the present and to point the way to the future. Only a fool would ignore where this market was yesterday and still expect to understand where it is today and where it will likely be tomorrow.

The stories that unfold in this anniversary issue tell of such critical events as the passage of the Clinger-Cohen Act and the decade of procurement reforms that it kicked off.

The rise of network-centric operations, first in the Defense Department and now permeating government under the guise of information-sharing and interoperability, is another impossible-to-ignore trend of the last 20 years.

And of course, no single event has had greater impact on the nation and the IT contracting community than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

With that horrific event, government and its contractors found a calling. Five years removed from the disaster, it continues to reverberate in the national consciousness, as it doubtless will for decades to come.

But though we mourn our tragedies, we also celebrate our triumphs. In this issue, we recount the technologies, from the ascension of the personal computer to encryption and the wireless devices that are enhancing and recreating government operations.

The industry Washington Technology chronicles also is about nothing if not the people who breathe life into it. Entrepreneurs and visionary executives have created a strong and vibrant industry that sometimes finds favor on Wall Street and sometimes doesn't, but has consistently delivered growth and opportunity.
And finally, there are the people of Washington Technology, particularly the two founders of the publication, Esther Smith and John Sanders. It was Smith's vision, coupled with Sanders promotion and business acumen, that built a publication dedicated to delivering news and information to the government marketplace.

For the next 24 pages, let us pause to look at our collective past. If Faulkner is right, we may get a glimpse of our future.

? Nick Wakeman

About the Author

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

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