CEOs list priorities in letter to Bush

In a letter to President Bush, the chief executive officers from a dozen top software companies named intellectual property protection, expansion into new global markets and solidifying the nation's high-tech workforce as their top priorities.

"As we previously discussed in our exchange of letters during your campaign, we ask for your leadership and commitment to our priority issues: strong copyright protection, free trade and the creation of a world class workforce, as we share your views on the importance of these issues to our country," the letter, sent Wednesday, stated.

The CEOs signed the letter as part of their membership in the Business Software Alliance, a software industry organization. Among them were Steve Ballmer from Microsoft Corp., Andrew Grove from Intel Corp., and Al Zollar of Lotus Development Corp.

On the workforce issue, the software executives acknowledged the shortage of technology personnel in the United States and recommended "improvements in education with a specific focus on science and math." But as a near-term solution, they asked Bush to provide them latitude through H-1B visas to hire foreign professionals for open jobs.

"The White house appreciates the information these business leaders have provided," White House spokesman Jimmy Orr said. "As the President said during his campaign, he appreciates the issues of intellectual property rights, the value of free trade and the need for expanding H-1B visas, so there is much common ground on these important issues."

The letter also cited several other issues facing the high-tech industry in the coming years, including protecting consumer privacy and the nation's critical information infrastructure.

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