Software CTOs Lobby for More R&D Spending

Tech execs from top software vendors take to Capitol Hill in search of more funds for research, patent reform and education.

The chief technology officers of 11 of the countrys largest software companies were on Capitol Hill March 2 to let legislators and administration officials know what theyre looking for out of Washington this year: More funding for research and development, more funding for patent reform and intellectual property protection, and more funding for math and science education.

"Theres a bit of a hole in the bucket right now," Microsoft CTO Craig Mundie said about the nations investment in R&D for basic research in information technologies.

The industry is urging lawmakers to increase the budget for the National Science Foundation and increase funding targeted to universities, which the software companies would partner with on advanced research, Christopher Rouland, CTO at Internet Security Systems, said at a meeting with reporters organized by the BSA (Business Software Alliance).

On patent reform, the companies are looking for higher quality patents, said Kevin Kettler, CTO at Dell. They are pushing for a more open patent review process that allows all stakeholders to express concerns early on in the process, as opposed to having to pursue litigation to settle disputes later on, he said.

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Much like their corporate counterparts, government officials are increasingly concerned about network security, especially preventing unauthorized access to data, Mundie said.

As agencies increasingly share data with a growing number of other offices, including local police departments and enforcement agencies abroad, there should be greater investment in security, he said.

"We found some willingness on [government officials] part [to recognize] that their need to share information broadly … is outstripping their ability to do it using the traditional multilevel security systems," Mundie said.

"The tension is between the way the agencies historically would have controlled access or movement and the inability to scale that out to the larger community."

While the CTOs were in town, BSA released a survey in which it found that budget constraints remain the greatest limit on the use of innovative technologies.

In the survey of 410 IT professionals in the United States and Europe, the most transformative technology innovations were considered to be mobile communications, server-based software and VOIP (voice over IP).

Cogs in one of Washingtons top-spending lobbying wheels, the software companies expect to have their voices heard when they visit Capitol Hill, but they also recognize that Congress has a lot of items on its agenda and not much time to address them before adjourning in the fall for the election season.

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