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FCW : July 30, 2013
Mark Warner 22 July 30, 2013 FCW.COM Virginia's technology community views Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) as one of its own, and many of its most prominent members are happy to assist him. In 2010, after the news media reported that shoddy recordkeeping at Arlington National Cemetery had resulted in misidenti ed grave sites and mishandled remains, the outraged Warner sought assistance from leaders of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Together, they worked with the Army to digitize the records for the 330,000 graves and improve burial procedures. "Mark called me and said that we had to x the problem.... The Army took almost all of our recommendations, " said Bobbie Kilberg, the council's president. "Mark is a business person, and he understands us. He solves problems. " The chief obstacle in resolving the cemetery's problems was the Army's reluctance to take private- sector advice. When Army Secretary John McHugh initially "stonewalled, " Kilberg added, Warner "pushed ahead and told the secretary that we would have a press conference.... Thirty minutes before the event, we got a letter from the Army saying that they would cooperate. " Warner took a similar approach early this year when he met with tech company executives and asked them to get involved in immigration legislation and support his interest in biometrics to promote enforcement, said Joe Vidulich, the council's public policy manager. IT company of cials and Senate aides had extensive meetings about improving identi cation on immigration and entry/exit documents, but Warner decided not to offer his changes on the Senate- passed immigration bill after the group failed to agree on a plan. Nevertheless, "we have started a thoughtful discussion, " he told FCW. "We want to make sure that all of the stakeholders talk to each other. " --- Richard E. Cohen Strong ties to the tech community group lacked the support of Senate leaders, and its efforts were ultimately overtaken by the budget negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. "The Gang was the kind of high- pro le, vocal and self-appointed group that could dwell in the world of s- cal and budget abstractions," journal- ist Bob Woodward wrote last year in "The Price of Politics," his book about those talks. "That freedom also gave the Gang plenty of time to stir the pot and cause trouble." Criticism of the group's deficit- reduction efforts was unwarranted, Warner said. He cast the blame for the failure of budget talks on the business community. "Business' failure to weigh in with a concentrated effort made a grand bargain more dif cult," he added. The retirement last year of Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), one of the Gang of Six, has reduced the group's activities. Instead, Warner has been working more closely with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Conrad's successor as chair- man of the Budget Committee. Uniting the 'blue shirts and red shirts' Warner still seems to be searching for the best way to serve as one of 100 in the politically unpopular Senate rather than as the boss --- in the public or private sector. "A chief executive's skill is to put out a plan and listen for changes," he said. "That's different for legislators, who often are in exible in getting their pound of esh.... I didn't appreciate how much Washington has broken down between blue shirts and red shirts." He will have an opportunity to test his nonpartisan approach as succes- sor to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) as chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Commit- tee's Surface Transportation and Mer- chant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee. As the panel begins work on a new multi-year autho- AP IMAGES
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August 15, 2013