by CIO Staff

The Future of U.S. Innovation

Apr 15, 20053 mins

Due to the vagaries of magazine publishing (editing, art, production), articles don’t appear in print until several months after writers have finished researching and writing. Longtime readers may remember some posts in late January and early February dealing with R&D, innovation and the state of U.S. technology policy. Longtime readers with really good memories may even remember that I mentioned a feature story I was writing on the topic.

Well exhale, the wait is over! (You were holding your breath, right?) My article, Why George Bush Needs a Technology Czar, is in the April 15 issue of CIO, and the accompanying sidebar on China’s technology policy, The Great Leap Forward, is available as an online exclusive. Since this whole post is blatant self-promotion, I’ll say that I’m pretty happy with the story, and while I don’t think anything in it will necessarily surprise the people who read this blog, I think you will all find it interesting.

As to the specifics, I anticipate that most of the comments I receive on the story will be critical of the technology czar position, either suggesting it is impractical or just a bad idea. So let’s get this out of the way now: Yes, I think that a person with the responsibilities I describe in the article would be helpful. Yes, I realize that the article doesn’t touch on the appropriations process or other systemic changes that would have to take place to create an empowered tech czar. And no, I don’t see it happening or even coming up for discussion.

What I hope readers will take away from the article is an understanding of the problem that the deterioration of the U.S. innovation ecosystem creates for both IT departments and society as a whole, and the role that the government is playing in that deterioration. I think that is a reasonable goal. So while I expect to get slammed as a wide-eyed idealist in the comment section attached to the article, I’m hoping that we can have a richer conversation in the comment section here. What do you think about the state of innovation in the United States today and in the future? Is the government doing enough to support it? Is that even the government’s job? Is the threat from China and to a lesser extent India overrated (or do you agree with author Richard Florida that the threat isn’t from one country but many countries)? And most importantly, does the United States need a technology policy in order to stay competitive? (By the way, feel free to slam me in the article’s comment section and then post something with more substance here.)

If all this isn’t enough food for thought, check out Thomas Friedman’s piece in today’s New York Times (free registration required), in which he posits that the current administration’s focus on tax cuts and military power come at the expense of economic competitiveness and technological innovation.