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FCW : September 15, 2014
Congress 20 September 15, 2014 FCW.COM ONLINE REPORT SPONSORED BY: Next-Generation Data Centers Special Report AGENCIES SEEK BIGGER BOOSTS IN EFFICIENCY, PERFORMANCE NEXT-GEN DATA CENTER DESIGNS: CUSTOM OR GENERIC? AGENCIES LOOK TO A SOFTWARE- DEFINED FUTURE FUTURE DATA CENTERS WILL ALSO NEED A STORAGE RETHINK THE MODULAR DATA CENTER GETS SOME TRACTION TO LEARN MORE, VISIT: FCW.COM/CDWGNEXTGENDATACENTER TOPICS INCLUDE: AGENCIES FIND NEW OPTIONS FOR FLEXIBILITY, EFFICIENCY AND POWER IN DATA CENTER OPERATIONS years learned the consequences of ever-changing Capitol Hill politics. The Defense Department, for exam- ple, has found itself contending with congressional committees that impose programs or contracts that the military doesn’t want. And in many cases, lob- bying firms are taking their case direct- ly to Pentagon officials. “The congressional earmark ban and stringent caps on discretionary spending have dramatically altered the landscape” for the defense indus- try and federal contractors, CQ Weekly reported in June. “Defense companies are increasing their outreach to the Pentagon to build support for their programs and are targeting congres- sional authorizers, who can write poli- cies favorable to their businesses and their bottom lines.” For decades, the congressional appropriations committees have tar- geted local projects to favored mem- bers, especially those who serve on the panels. Those abuses grew when Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) became a House Republican leader in 1995. Indeed, Republicans’ recent no-ear- mark pledge built on bipartisan objec- tions to DeLay’s excesses. However, the breakdown of the rou- tine appropriations process in the past few years — coupled with the growing use of omnibus spending bills — has reduced opportunities to target spend- ing to particular states or congressional districts, and many appropriators are now seeking ways to revive earmarks but with fewer political shenanigans. Defenders of earmarks argue that they were useful in generating lawmak- ers’ support for complex bills, which have become more difficult to pass amid the current congressional dys- function. For a relatively modest fis- cal cost, proponents contend, restoring some of that legislative grease might facilitate political alliances. A former agency CIO told FCW that earmarks can have other benefits. “I can recall some earmarks which I likely bridled about at the time but did serve to get us working with and look- ing at companies that weren’t among our ‘usual suspects,’” he said. Given the Obama administration’s emphasis on innovation and Silicon Valley-style development, “those past earmarks did get us acquainted with new and up-and-coming firms...that often proved to be a good thing,” the former CIO said. Still, the deep public disapproval of Congress makes it doubtful that many earmark defenders will embrace their cause with straightforward support. For now at least, calls for modifying congressional budget procedures seem unlikely to yield more than modest tin- kering at the edges. And some lawmakers will continue to seek ways to wink at reform pres- sures as they carry on with business as usual. ■
September 30, 2014
August 30, 2014