The U.S. presidential candidate to beat -- as far as many tech companies are concerned, anyway -- may be Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who recently presented a nine-page technology plan called "Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation."
Quite a mouthful and, according to CrunchGear, the ambitious plan includes such issues as wireless spectrums, broadband access, network neutrality and immigration. (A link to the whole thing is included.) The plan also calls for the appointment of a chief technology officer, whose responsibilities would include making the work of government agencies more transparent through the use of Web 2.0 tools such as Webcasts, wikis and blogs.
While this sounds grand, says ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan, it doesn't address what the federal government really needs: better project management and more respect for its CIOs.
Dignan mentions the Department of Homeland Security, where the CIO had the task of herding cats at 22 agencies and, until recently, had no budget authority. This goes a long way toward explaining the DHS' woeful record on tech initiatives.
Exhibit B: We blogged about the Department of Agriculture's recent decision to have its CFO pull double duty as CIO, the first time in nearly eight years that it hasn't had a dedicated CIO.
When there's an IT failure in the government, here's what we get: A congressional hearing and some legislator grandstanding followed by more money thrown down the well. We need someone that's going to crack a whip and maybe even toss out the folks responsible for poor project management. For this CTO to really have an impact, Obama needs to drop the Web 2.0 banter and focus more on giving this position the power it deserves.
Regardless of whether his plan goes far enough to address technology-management issues on the federal level, Obama is emerging as a favorite candidate at tech and telecom companies. More than 70 percent of the nearly $1 million donated to political candidates thus far in 2007 has gone to Democrats, reports eWEEK, with Obama fetching the most funds at Google and IBM.