Post Newsweek gala: Big night in 'a small town'

The sold-out event was wall-to-wall feds and vendors.

The choir from the Duke Ellington School for the Arts got the event off to a harmonic start.

'It's like old home week,' said Chip Mather, shouting to be heard above the roar of conversation in the Washington Hilton and Towers' playing-field-size grand ballroom.

About 1,000 ebullient IT execs and guests in black tie and evening dress were on hand Oct. 30 for Post Newsweek Tech Media's annual gala and awards dinner, and to celebrate GCN's 20th anniversary in print.

There were feds and former feds. There were state and local folks. Industry execs were everywhere. And everybody seemed to know everybody.

'It really is a small town,' said Mather, senior vice president of Acquisitions Solutions Inc. of Chantilly, Va., and a former Air Force procurement officer. 'So many of us have been working together all these years to improve things.'

The atmosphere was as electric as the laser beams that zapped across the room to cap a glittering evening of acceptance speeches, technology awards and plaudits for GCN's 20 years of government IT coverage.

'GCN has been a vital part of all of our lives in those two decades,' 20th year industry executive Milton Cooper, former president of Computer Sciences Corp.'s federal sector, told the crowd gathered in the ballroom.

Over cocktails, a Homeland Security Office official said: 'GCN is still doing a fabulous job of keeping readers up on new technologies and how to change government.'

In their speeches, award winners spun tales about the old days of government computing and pondered the future in the next 20 years.

'Government has gotten more sophisticated in terms of how it uses computers and technologies,' Hall of Fame inductee Miriam Browning, former principal director of enterprise integration in the Army's CIO Office, told GCN before her speech. 'But there is still one constant'the hard issue of determining the vision and how to tie together all the pieces.'
As the lights came up and people began drifting to the dessert bar, Mark Forman, the Office of Management and Budget's associate director for IT and e-government, talked about a conversation he had earlier in the evening with 20th year civilian executive Jack Brooks, a government IT pioneer and former chairman of the House Government Operations Committee.

'Jack told me that back when he was doing all the oversight, the big problem was that the government agencies couldn't share information,' said Forman, whose own government career is approaching 20 years. 'That's exactly what I'm working on 20 years later. It's the same problem.'

But he added, 'We are at the cusp of a major, dynamic transformation as Web services come to the forefront. It's the next round of the Internet. A year or two from now, we'll be right in the middle of the next wave.'

And GCN will be right there too.

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