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Thank You Representative Tom Davis

February 15, 2008
As a Florida resident, Virginia's Tom Davis is not my elected representative. However, as a 20 year executive in the information technology (IT) industry, I recognize that during the last decade Representative Tom Davis has been the single greatest advocate in championing information technology within the federal government in order to increase services to constituents while balancing procurement accountability with operational results. In a move that once again bolsters my own theory that the most capable politicians make their civic contributions and then move on (while the most inept politicians strive to become career politicians as they would be rendered low value in the private sector), Representative Davis has indicated he will not seek reelection this year.

Take a look at the list of Tom Davis legislative accomplishments that have changed how the federal government procures and uses information technology.

  • The Federal Acquisition Act which reformed government contracting by enhancing procurement visibility, measurement and a focus toward results (Reform Act Fiscal 1996 Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 104-106), 1996)
  • The promotion of interagency information technology coordination, knowledge sharing and shared services. This act also included strong motivation for agencies to their IT and Internet initiatives with complimentary federal services and activities. This effort was nothing short of a significant cultural revolution which surprised many by the inevitable break down of agency silos and new found cooperation. E-Gov Act (P.L. 107-347), 2002
  • The promotion of partnership between federal government and private industry with the Information Technology Exchange program. This effort sought to evolve the adversarial vendor/buyer relationship with a mutually rewarding partnership backed by visible metrics and accountability. E-Gov Act (P.L. 107-347), 2002
  • The FISMA program which finally brought attention and focus to the government's information security weaknesses and began the process to remedy federal information security with a prescriptive, measured and results oriented program (Federal Information Security Act (P.L. 107-347), 2002)
  • The Services Acquisition Reform which established Chief Acquisition Officer (CAO) roles for major agencies (Services Acquisition Reform Act (P.L. 108-136), 2003)
  • The creation of an acquisition workforce training program which brought much needed attention and flexibility to improving the federal acquisition workforce (Services Acquisition Reform Act (P.L. 108-136), 2003)
  • A wholesale upgrade and modernization to the federal security clearance process (Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458), 2004)
  • The much needed streamlining of the GSA (General Services Administration) operation by consolidating the overlapping Federal Supply Service and Federal Technology Service into a single Federal Acquisition Service; this bold move improved operations and saved taxpayers many millions of dollars (General Services Administration Modernization Act (P.L. 109-313), 2006)
  • Leveraged the success of the acquisition workforce training fund program to make it permanent (Fiscal 2008 Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 110-181), 2008)

Representative Davis' is the Chairman of the Government Reform Committee. His experience and skills related to procuring, implementing and realizing results with information technology made him a very rare expert on capital hill. The reality is, not only do most politicians have no software technology or information technology skills, they also don't have the interest to this technical subject matter and its not so glamorous functions of procurement and accountability. Tom Davis had both the skills and the willingness to do a job that other politicians veered away from - and do it successfully in a way that promoted knowledge sharing and saved tax payers many hundreds of millions of dollars.

To continue progress in this often overlooked but extraordinarily high budget area, Davis has suggested that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) be his successor. While I have not followed Issa, I do know he is the founder of technology company Directed Electronics, a maker of automobile security and convenience products located in Cleveland. He was also the Chairman of the Consumer Electronics Association and a board of governor of the Electronics Industry Association. Congressman Issa's spokesman has confirmed "Congressman Issa, with his background in the technology sector, is keenly interested in how new technologies and procurement policies can make the federal government work more efficiently."

Here are a few of my favorite Tom Davis quotes:

  • With regard to the state of government IT staffing, Davis quite accurately surmised, "Outsourcing decisions should be driven by efficiencies, but right now they are driven by default because we don't have the in-house capability to perform" February 2002

  • With regard to cyber terrorism, Davis again used candor to accurately state America's most current threats, "The vulnerabilities of our systems are significant, and the potential damage that can be done is a lot more than any plane flying into a building. That's the reality. January 2005

Keywords: fiscal accountability, information technology, procurement accountability

 


Congressman Tom Davis
Congressman Tom Davis

Representative Tom Davis (R-VA) served the U.S. House of Representatives, for Virginia's 11th District, from January 1995 through January 2009. Davis was preceded by Representative Leslie Byrne.

 


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