In light of the recent tragic events in Tuscon the political rhetoric of the US has fixated on the idea of the two political parties working together. In a significant break with tradition Republican and Democratic legislative members will be sitting together during the State of the Union address on 25 January 2011.[1] Whether or not the spirit of cooperation will last into the spring remains to be seen, but it should make for a more entertaining speech tomorrow night. Perhaps the citizens of America will watch it in hope of awkward standing ovations or that the legislators will behave as we all did in grade school when our teachers made us sit boy-girl-boy. CNN suggests that it might even turn the speech into less of a pep rally for the party of the executive branch and more of a forum where citizens to learn what is going on from their elected leader.[2] Well here’s to hoping anyways.

 

Members of the House and Senate have jumped at this bipartisanship as a platform to distinguish themselves to their constituents. Many have chosen to focus on financial reform, which almost inevitably leads to a negative tone. However Representative Gerry Connelly D-Va has chosen a different path. Working in conjunction with Rep. Darrell Issa R-Ca, he is seeking to reform and streamline the government IT procurement process.[3] Connelly is seeking comprehensive hearings to evaluate everything from the efficiency of the procurement process, the use of federal employees instead of contractors and the use of current technology.[4] He is particularly interested in exploring with government IT experts the money saving potential of cloud computing instead of data centers.

 

Having spent the last several months calling government IT workers, I think most would agree that there are both positive and negative things about the current procurement process. Depending on which agency has to be used for acquisition the choices may be drastically limited. The natural fear will be that any new legislation might exacerbate any existing problems. I believe that the potential to revise what is a confusing and frustrating system for employees into a mechanism of technology acquisition that is beneficial for all parties. A simpler faster system would improve the service provided to the tax payer and with the implementation of cloud cost could be drastically reduced while multiplying efficiency.

 

Government IT is not likely to be the blockbuster story like the tragedy of the shooting of Representative Giffords, who I am very glad is recovering in my home state. But whether or not it creates the kind of news the traditional outlets are looking for, the health of the information technology of this country is imperative as we move through this new decade. Other countries in the world, particularly China, are investing heavily in technology and the US must keep pace even if in a recession or we will be left behind.


[1] Tom Cohen, “Legislators pairing off for bipartisan seating at Obama speech,” CNN Politics, http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/01/23/congress.date.night/index.html?hpt=Sbin, Posted on 24 January 2011.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Matthew Weigelt, “Outsourcing, insourcing and partisanship, Lawmaker seeks cooperation, not conflict,” Federal Computer Week, http://fcw.com/Articles/2011/01/21/Gerry-Connelly-bipartisan-issues-James-Lankford-subcommittee.aspx?Page=2, Posted 21 January 2011.

[4] Ibid.