Google Ups Washington Presence

Google CEO Eric Schmidt may have eliminated himself from the running to be Barack Obama's CTO, but Google is still going full-bore to influence the new administration's technology policy, no doubt to the telecommunications companies' annoyance that theirs is no longer the only point of view in town.

Schmidt told CNBC's Jim Cramer Nov. 7 he was not interested in being the nation's first CTO: "I love working at Google and I'm very happy to stay at Google, so the answer is no."

That said, Schmidt plans a Nov. 17 speech in Washington on the need to build a 21st century infrastructure, how to repair the U.S. educational system and ways to make the government more open and responsive. Two days later, Google's Washington office will host a discussion to "help set the technology policy agenda for the upcoming Congress and administration."

The agenda for the Nov. 19 event includes the need for an open Internet, universal broadband access and a smart energy grid.

"The American economy faces profound challenges," stated the Google invite to the Nov. 19 event. "The U.S. is losing its competitive edge in technology and science, and its status as a world leader in innovation and small business entrepreneurship is at risk."

Google's posturing might be otherwise dismissed as another company trying to ride Obama's win, but given Schmidt's role as a top economic advisor to the president-elect and Google's successful campaign to force the Federal Communications Commission to mandate open access in its auction of the 700MHz auction, the time is arriving when if Google speaks, Washington listens.