Tech will see direct, indirect benefits from stimulus plan

Tech will see direct, indirect benefits from stimulus plan

Summary: I have to say that I'm very impressed with Washington these past couple of days. In just about 24 hours, the House and the Senate were able to reach an agreement on a massive economic stimulus plan, now tagged at more than $789 billion.

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I have to say that I'm very impressed with Washington these past couple of days. In just about 24 hours, the House and the Senate were able to reach an agreement on a massive economic stimulus plan, now tagged at more than $789 billion. That's no small task. And now, it's believed that a bill could reach the President's desk within days.

The details of the bill still hadn't been released late Wednesday, as there was expected to be some last-minute tweaks going on into the night. Still, that that didn't stop bill-watchers from immediately speculating about what was saved and what was axed.

It's easy to Monday morning quarterback for your own cause and question the details, the loopholes and, of course, the distribution of funds in this bill. The tech industry is no different. Already, there are those who are criticizing the plan's investment in tech as being too complex or favoring big corporations over small businesses. But others note that the tech industry - no matter how the dollars and tax breaks are settled in the end - comes out a winner with this bill.

Consider this excerpt from the New York Times:

To many on K Street, the stimulus bill was the clearest guide to the new administration’s closest friends in the business world. What oil was to President Bush, some say, clean energy and technology are to the Obama White House. “We have a president who gets it,” said Dean Garfield, the president of the Information Technology Industry Council.

In the Senate version of the bill, about $7 billion was allocated for expanding broadband access into rural and underserved areas, $20 billion for a "smart grid power network" and $20 billion to digitize health records. It's still not clear how the compromise between the House and the Senate will impact those allocations, though.

But let's put those investments to the side for a minute. Those are the ones that are getting all of the attention. But there are plenty of other parts of this bill that will have a ripple effect on the tech industry - from manufacturing jobs to hardware sales to service contracts. Some of those line items, taken from the Senate's version, include:

  • $20 billion, including $14 billion for K-12 and $6 billion for higher education, for renovation and modernization, including technology upgrades and energy efficiency improvements.
  • $1 billion for 21st century classrooms, including computer and science labs and teacher technology training.
  • $550 million to modernize aging hospitals and make healthcare technology upgrades at Indian Health Service Facilities.
  • $400 million to replace the 30-year-old Social Security Administration’s National Computer Center.
  • $245 million for "critical IT improvements" to the Farm Service Agency's systems.
  • $276 million to upgrade and modernize information technology platforms for the State Department to meet post-9/11 security requirements.

Let's not fool ourselves. This injection of funds will help get things kick-started but it won't solve all of the problems. For an industry like tech, there's a real opportunity to maximize the ROI by taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies that enterprise operations are looking into as a means of overall cost savings.

What will be the role of cloud computing in the 21st Century classroom? Will the SSA's new National Computer Center take advantage of SaaS offerings? How many of the healthcare upgrades will take utilize portable WiFi-enabled devices? Is there a virtualization plan in place for those "critical IT improvements?"

It was the job of Congress and the administration to free those federal funds. From here on out, the job is all of ours. We need to make sure that the government has a firm understanding of the latest technological breakthroughs and knows how to take advantage of tech to operate more efficiently.

For the longest time,  Silicon Valley wanted some respect and attention in Washington. That day has finally come. Now, it's time for the tech industry to step up to the plate and prove to this country that an investment in tech can go a long way.

Also see:

Obama: “It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption” Group calls on Washington to establish national Broadband strategy

Topics: Health, CXO, Enterprise Software, Software, IT Employment

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  • You would have to be .....

    ... a complete moron to be pleased with a stimulus bill that is back end loaded and full of pork!. Despite what the President says $30 million to save a marshland in Nancy Pelosi's home district is pork. It cannot even remotely be considered stimulus. Another dark day for the middle class.
    ShadeTree
    • Pelosi on Weed

      I really think these congress people should take a drug test. Better yet, we all should send them the Declaration of Independence and read the clause about there job ending as soon as possible. Like their next election date.

      "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
      doranmichigan
    • All spending is pork

      You can't have a spending bill without it being pork in somebody's point of view. Spending is always localized. The point is that you have to make sure as many people benefit from the overall pie (not just in one particular bill) as possible.

      So yes, Pelosi's district will get money spent. So will yours, maybe not in this bill, but perhaps the next. But overall we all benefit, jobs will be created in this country as a result (weren't you [url=http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-12355-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=60740&messageID=1117750]just complaining[/url] about money not being spent in this country?), and even if the jobs aren't local to you, some of the unemployed in your area will go where the work is, which will relieve some of your burden. Projects which require labor guarantees that money will flow not just to the laborers, but to the places where those laborers spend their income (in other words, businesses big and small). Even the government will recoup some of this spending via income taxes.

      The point is to get money flowing and keep it flowing. And believe it or not, pork does just that.
      Michael Kelly
      • Sure does, but at what cost?

        You realize that most of this stimulus spending
        will be done with printed money. So while your
        district may be a winner in the short-run,
        everyone else's dollar will be worth less
        overall.

        This is about picking winners and losers. In
        the short-term, the winners get the flowing. In
        the long term, we're all just sinking further
        into debt.
        JohnMcGrew@...
        • Which is why you can't single out one piece of pork

          You have to consider the overall spending, not just one project. If you think your district is getting the shaft, then elect a better representative.

          But yes there may be pockets where people do not have the same success as other people in other parts. This happens in all economic shifts, it happened in the Great Depression. You know what happens? People move to where the work is, and then they benefit. You can't grow crops in sand. (That gets me thinking of of that old Sam Kinison bit about moving the starving people to where the food is.)
          Michael Kelly
          • You're joking, right?

            The entire bill is pork. The new definition of
            "pork" IS "stimulus". (replaces the term
            "sweetener" used to sell the last "stimulus"
            bill)

            So I'm assuming you'd rather live in a country
            where goods and services are directed by
            politicians instead of the marketplace. And if
            I lose my job because resources are diverted
            from those who purchase my services to those who
            have better lobbyists, then that's just too bad
            for me.

            Guess I and my clients need to be spending more
            on lobbyists and politicians than on R&D, like
            the other guys have.
            JohnMcGrew@...
          • The marketplace failed

            due to incompetence. Our workers are too dumb and greedy because our schools suck and they are trained from birth to be greedy. So they spent and borrowed without care, and this is where we ended up.

            I would prefer a marketplace without government intervention too, but obviously it's shown it's not mature enough to go it alone, so now we need a handout from mommy and daddy. And when that happens, we need to go by their rules. And some of their rules suck (the cap on executive pay with no exceptions for companies that show substantial improvement is a mistake) but they're going to help us out and they're going to make sure we do something useful around the house in the meantime.

            You failed. Live with the consequences.
            Michael Kelly
          • And who runs most of the schools?

            I hope the government does better saving the
            economy than they've done with government-run
            education.

            Oh, you've clearly not noticed that we already
            have a marketplace with government intervention.
            Um, were not Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae, which
            control the marketplace for mortgages overseen
            by the government? And when it was suggested 7
            or 8 years ago that there was a problem there,
            it was the same Congress that is now trying to
            save us that refused to do anything about it.

            No, you have failed, and we're all going to be
            living with the consequences for a very long
            time.
            JohnMcGrew@...
          • Now you're really joking ...

            You actually think the government had nothing to do with this mess? Oh that?s right; it was Bush who let those greedy executives run wild. Let's see, where are some of those greedy executives now? Oh there they are, economic advisors for BO. I think the market place got very creative in making sure they didn?t economically discriminate against people trying to buy homes. Since the government was taking on the risk an insuring the subprime mortgages the market got creative and did what the government asked of them. In retrospect they didn't fail. The problem here is that a business can't hide behind tax payers. They in the end have to be accountable. Also keep in mind that there are millions of people who think your greedy because you have more than they do. You greedy bastard :)
            tdnelson@...
          • Marketplace isn't the one failing

            Give me a break ! Capitalism works but not when the government intervenes constantly and over-regulates. If it was not for the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 being re-interpreted by Clinton and his dem croonies, we would not be in this mess. I love Barney Franks chastising the CEOs...how ironic and hypocritical !

            You can sugar-coat this all you want but this is a pork-barrel special interest laden democratic wet dream. no one has $800 billion to borrow us so we will print money that is not backed by securities, gold, or any other fundamental. can you say inflation ! then there is the cost of interest for all this. we are looking at $1.2 trillion ladies and gentlemen ! who will be paying for all this ? did you know that most congresspeople have not even read the contents of this "stimulus" bill.

            the USPS lost $3 billion last year and Amtrak has never turned a profit. yes....let's have the government run more things. this is about an ever intrusive government. Mr. Obama is a radical and his ideas are just coming out. socialism is in and personal freedoms are out together with wealth. want to someday become a millionaire ? instead of having a chance you will be equal with your peer.....even if you are smarter, better, or hard working !

            I am looking forward to gas prices being manipulated and wait to you start paying for his energy policy that we can also not afford. while businesses are trimming the government keeps getting bigger !

            congress can keep their stimulus.
            pizzaman7
          • Speaking of dumb

            Our markets failed because of an increasingly socialist mindset in government and the society that put it in power. Forcing people to provide subprime loans to those who can't afford to pay them back for the purpose of social engineer is one of the causes of this debacle.

            the "401K" mindset added to it. Having companies provide 'benefits' instead of paying you money and letting you get your own benefits contributed to the debacle.

            Stupid and ridiculous regulations, some designed to protect specific sectors of the economy, some designed to strangle others, contributed to the debacle.

            Capitalism is responsible for about 20% of this debacle. Creeping socialism is responsible for 80%.
            hiraghm@...
          • Thats Funny...

            We weren't starving until they took our money to feed someone else. We didn't need a representative, we just worked hard and smart on our own. Don't think to hard about the old Sam Kinison bit, You're atually suggesting we need representatives fto igure out who should starv and at what level starving begins.
            tdnelson@...
          • In case you didn't notice...

            ...we do have new leadership now who is just as pissed as everyone else about how we've spent money in the past. So why don't we reserve judgment until we see the results.
            Michael Kelly
          • I'm already studying the results.

            http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/senatestima
            mendment.pdf

            Don't you find it scary that hundreds of our
            leaders are going to be voting on this before
            even reading it, much less understanding it?

            Or is that the idea?

            "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,
            and what I mean by that is an opportunity to do
            things that you didn't think you could do
            before." Rahm Emanuel, November 21, 2008
            JohnMcGrew@...
          • Oh I'm sorry ...

            I thought we had a public speaker with a Clinton administration. And lets see, we still have the same congressional leaders 2 plus years now with an 8% approval rating. so what your saying is that Bush put us into debt much to slowy. Our new leadership will show us how to do it much faster.

            Oh, you keep mentioning we have to look at the stimulus package as a whole and not individual expenses within. Do you know that is exactly how they sold the mortgage security packages. Its not the individual loans that are important you have to look at the package as a whole. Please be consistent.
            tdnelson@...
          • If you got a new boss

            and you kept following your old boss's orders, you'd be shown the door pretty quickly.

            Oh I see, you're assuming the boss just lets his employees run the show, like some of his predecessors did. Well if he does, then I'm sure HE'LL be shown the door pretty quickly. But somehow I think he's not that kind of boss.
            Michael Kelly
          • Considering the "new" boss's inexperience...

            ...wasn't it the point that he'd be relying upon
            his staff, and not the other way around.

            You'll have for forgive me for listening to
            their press releases.
            JohnMcGrew@...
          • But the WHY is everything

            yeah, but they're not mad about spending the money, obviously, just

            The current leadership keeps talking about "the past 8 years". Except, 2 years ago, we kicked the Republicans out for acting too much like Democrats.

            Curiously, 2 years ago, some in Congress tried to warn about fannie mae and freddie mac.

            The economy has gone in the toilet over the past year, under Democrat control.
            hiraghm@...
          • Lets see the Results?

            If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that we've ignored history.

            I agree with John, look at what government has done to education, healthcare, charity, drug abatement, money and our national security. Imagine what will happen to technology under the federal government. It's bad that it is a pork barrel bill but that's not the worst thing.

            Oh, there will be change.
            williamacole@...
          • not over $714G in pork in this "stimulus" bill

            Let's see, there are the golf carts, the ACORN funding, the broad-
            band funding, the massively privacy violating medical records
            system...

            None of it empowered by the US constitution.

            Examples of what would be constitutional: post roads (i.e. interstate
            highways), equipment and personnel to more thoroughly inspect
            incoming shipments at ports, fence and personnel to guard the
            borders, personnel to conduct proper background investigations on
            visa applicants, R&D for defense, more local armories for the militia,
            new and renovated federal court-houses, a bigger House chamber to
            accommodate the 10K or so Representatives (1 for every 30K to 50K
            US citizens) aimed at by the founders (and take down those accursed
            fasces, FCOL!), tax breaks for the costs of interviewing and relocating
            and educating or training US citizen employees.
            Professor8