Obama/Biden 'Promises Change' for Information Technology

Dennis Byron

Having looked at some of the challenges President-elect Obama faces in the transition from campaign to government, it's time to lay out his technology platform and see what it means to IT managers and staffs. The short version is (in order of its mention on barackobama.com):

  • Net neutrality
  • Diverse media ownership -- less relevant if net neutrality is upheld
  • An anti-pornography plank but only IF consistent with the First Amendment
  • Unspecific improved privacy protection
  • Transparent government
  • Appointment of a U.S. CTO for the first time (see earlier blog post)
  • Broadband everywhere (which means higher fees on your broadband bill)
  • Fight back against the Chinese invasion in the IT market (I am writing this on my $300 Lenovo laptop; prepare to pay more)
  • Permanent R&D tax credits
  • Increased anti-trust enforcement (attention Mr. Ballmer -- it could be as if Neelie Kroes emigrated, became a U.S. citizen and was made Attorney General)
  • International and domestic IP reform, including ensuring "that our patent laws protect legitimate rights while not stifling innovation and collaboration" (written in way to keep everyone in the open and closed source camps happy without really saying anything)
  • Better use of IT in health-care delivery and public safety
  • A series of planks related to education and the science part of the platform
Of all these planks on the new administration's technology platform, from an IT staff perspective, the R&D credit is the good news. Whether it would help overcome higher broadband and systems expenses tied to the "broadband everywhere" and beating back the Chinese invasion is questionable.


Of more concern, if the order of presentation on the Web site is a prioritized list of plans, you might get the higher costs before you get the tax credit.


On one hand, the Obama campaign for the last two years has been a big fan of social computing, and wants to translate that into more transparent government. I don't believe any application of technology will make government more or less transparent. There have been plenty of government Web sites for 10 or more years. But you still run right into the bureaucracy; you just hit it quicker.


On the other hand, at least the U.S. information technology market (I can't speak for other technologies) still leads the world and there is nothing any U.S. government can do in the short term to jeopardize that lead.


The new administration says it wants to fund more basic research but I doubt if much of that will flow to IT; it will be spent on nano, alternative-energy and so forth. And that's OK with me. Our industry is coming up on 70 years old and doesn't need any more incubation.


(Note: Jason Stamper at CBR has posted on the Obama/Biden plan with a different perspective more related to the industry and stock-market possibilities. Jason also interviewed the CFO of Ingres, Tom Berquist, about his opinion, which was a nice touch.)

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 13, 2008 12:02 PM Ethan Dunham Ethan Dunham  says:
I take issue with your allusions to higher fees and costs for broadband and the wonders of low cost Chinese manufacturing. That, my friend, is old school, last century thinking. If we continue to send our capital and innovation to China in trade for the illusions of lower costs (Lenovo), and block the last mile of broadband with government pandering to large telcos under the illusion that doing otherwise will increase our costs we will continue our drift into obscurity.We need change and we need it in Information Technology, too. Reply
Nov 14, 2008 6:30 PM DennisByron DennisByron  says:
Thanks for the comment EthanBut who's "we?" I don't believe technology has a nationality and I assume we give as well as get from a vibrant worldwide IT market unconstrained by the types of rules the EU already mandates and that the new administration appears to be considering.My point about increased broadband costs might be confusing. I don't see those costs related to net neutrality but to the "broadband everywhere" concept under which it is likely we will all pay a "tax" to lay fiber out to the southern tip of Hawaii and the Maine/Quebec border. Thanks again.Dennis Reply

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