IT issues consideration in the Senate, but perhaps not the House

Observers have said that under the new leadership in Congress, federal IT issues will receive closer scrutiny, but it is unclear whether the White House's e-government initiative will sink or swim with Democrats in charge.

That does not mean e-government is dead, as several experts noted that both the House Government Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have, at least under current leadership, built a solid reputation for bipartisanship.

Indeed, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), expected to be the new Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman next year if Democrats win the chamber, was a chief sponsor of the E-Government Act of 2002, and observers do not anticipate him abandoning this issue.

"I could actually see [the Senate] being more supportive of e-government," said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation of Washington. "The impetus of this whole thing was from the Lieberman e-government bill."

Jonathan Bruel, a senior fellow with the IBM Center for the Business of Government, agreed. "I'd expect considerable continuity in the Senate if Lieberman takes over as chairman," he said. "He's had a long-standing support for e-government."

The House, though, is another story.

While most agree that current Government Reform Committee chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) has run his committee in a bipartisan fashion, no one is quite sure what ranking member Henry Waxman's (R-Calif.) priorities will be if, as expected, he takes over the committee.

Davis came from industry, and many high-tech firms are located within his constituency, so IT issues and procurement are naturally top priorities for the Virginia congressman.

But observers note that Waxman has not been as vocal on these issues, and, given his opposition to many White House priorities, he will likely call for greater oversight.

"I think Waxman's focus will turn more toward policy and less toward technology," said one former government official.

This could give agencies skeptical of e-government a chance to slow progress on certain programs and wait out the remaining two years of the Bush administration, the official said.

"Agencies will feel empowered to drag their feet and wait for the administration to croak," the official said, adding that complying with the President's Management Agenda scorecard will not be a priority.

Still, some officials are optimistic that the new leadership will bring in new opportunities for the IT industry.

"Many leading Democrats in the new House either come from a district with a number of high-tech companies or are in districts close to those with a concentration of high-tech companies," said William Archey, president and CEO of AeA (formerly the American Electronics Association). "We expect, under the Democrats, that our voice will be heard, and we will be given a fair hearing on the challenges facing high-tech in the next few years."

Roseanne Gerin, staff writer for Washington Technology, contributed to this story.

Rob Thormeyer is a staff writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Our databases track awards back to 2013. Read More

  • Navigating the trends and issues of 2016 Nick Wakeman

    In our latest WT Insider Report, we pull together our best advice, insights and reporting on the trends and issues that will shape the market in 2016 and beyond. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.