The New Washington Tech Agenda - Page 3

Clean Energy

A centerpiece of Obama's campaign, Obama is proposing that the government invest heavily ($150 billion over the next 10 years) in smart utilities, electrical grids and meters. The investment, Obama claims, will pay off with the generation of five million new jobs, almost of all of them in domestic tech firms that dominate the global smart technologies field.

A smart electrical grid, for instance, can send data to power companies every 6 seconds instead of every 30 days, allowing the utilities to constantly monitor energy usage and, in theory, make adjustments to conserve energy and, potentially, reduce the need for more power plants.

Obama believes green IT is not only financially viable but also deployable in the short term. He also promises to spend big on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, another growing area of technology.

Free Trade

Tech is not so keen on Obama's stance that any future trade agreements include strong labor, environmental and safety standards. As a U.S. senator, Obama opposed trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. During his campaign, he called for renegotiating NAFTA. Globalization, he wrote in opposing CAFTA, is "not someone's political agenda."

That would be Silicon Valley moguls who have never met a trade deal they didn't like, even if the murder rate among our trading partners' labor leaders is criminal.

Health IT

Since a recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers study concluded that Obama's overhaul of the U.S. health care system would cost the federal government $75 billion the first year alone, reducing the cost of health care is essential, and Obama is again turning to technology.

Most medical records are still stored on paper with all the inherent drawbacks that involves: coordinating care, measuring quality and reducing medical errors. Processing paper claims also costs twice as much as processing electronic claims.

Obama promises to invest $50 billion over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records.

Open-Source Government

Obama plans to bring the same tech-centric focus of his campaign to his new government. Obama spoke often on the campaign trail of using technology to make the government more open to citizens.

Among his proposals: making more government reports and data available online; Webcasts of all government meetings; and creating tech tools to allow users to track federal grants, contracts, lobbyist information and earmarks. He even proposes a five-day public comment period on any legislation pending before the White House.

Given Obama's bent to make the government more transparent to citizens, for the tech entrepreneurs who pioneered manipulating a flood of public information available during the campaign into actionable data, the future looks bright.