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FCW Insider: The presidential candidates and IT


Last week, I posted about the presidential candidates, leadership and their Internet use. The Information Technology Association of America last week (I'm just noticing it this week) released the results of "a comprehensive assessment of the presumptive Democratic and Republican Presidential nominees’ views of technology issues to date, giving both Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) an 'incomplete' on their overall focus on and vision for technology-driven innovation."

You can read ITAA's assessment here. [.pdf]... and hear an archived version of an ITAA Webinar with campaign advisers here. The campaigns were represented by Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, who represented McCain and Prof. Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago and co-director of the Initiative on Global Markets, who represented Obama. [Read ITAA's press release on the assessment here.]

The ITAA assessment [.pdf], which is worth reading, gives the two candidates very similar marks except for two areas -- McCain gets much better marks on international trade issues, and Obama gets much better marks on the campaign's use of the Internet. But it also goes into more detail about the two campaign's specific tech positions.

With just about everybody laying in wait on transition, Input, the market research firm, also has a report out on transition.

There is an excerpt from the introduction of Input's April 2008 report, Industry Leader's Guide to the 2008 Administration Transition below, but one of the most interesting charts (Exhibit 11-3 for those playing along at home) titled "Agencies Most Impacted by Leadership Losses," looks at the percentage of the agency's leadership that is subject to change with the changing administration. (My translation: What agencies have the highest percentage of politicals in the leadership ranks.) Somewhat surprising to me was the Education Department, which Input found would have 22.2 percent of its leadership changing coming 01.20.2009.

Other agencies:

* DOD: 14.8 percent
* Labor: 14.4 percent
* State: 14.2 percent
* USAID: 12.5 percent
* USDA: 10 percent

I have to admit that I haven't read the entire report, but... here is an excerpt of the introduction:


The 2008 administration transition will change the government landscape in many ways: a new President, a potential shift in the Presidential/Congressional balance of power, and a potential change in policy direction. While many members of the IT community will take a “wait and see” approach and respond to the changes presented by the transition, industry leaders are taking a more proactive approach by planning for the transition ramifications now.

There are a multitude of factors shaping the environment in which the new administration will operate, such as spending levels, budget constraints, and human capital challenges. These factors will shape the needs of the government as it weathers the transition, and beyond.

There are several reasons why industry leaders should begin thinking about this now:

• In the near-term, the transition can impact human capital, budgets, programs, and procurement, and reveal near-term (FY09 and FY2010) needs that industry leaders can begin preparing for now.
• Although the full influence of the President-elect will not be felt for roughly 18 to 24 months into the term, industry leaders can begin to evaluate key policy areas and begin strategic planning now.
• Agency leadership is beginning the process of reviewing programs for weaknesses, performance issues, and risk factors. They are also working to deemphasize political affiliations with programs. Agency customers will need contractors’ help now to develop plans for identifying, mitigating, and solving problems before the new administration takes office, and
contribute an external perspective on the program.
• Changing priorities within the new class of appointees may require contractors to reassess their solutions, value propositions, and sales strategies, which could require significant time and investment.
• As political appointees begin leaving (if they haven’t already), contractors will need to identify and recruit more program champions among the remaining stakeholders.

This report will examine the potential impact on government and the IT community during the transition process, provide analysis of the impact of the Democrat and Republican agendas on technology, and offer recommendations for supporting agency partners and finding critical areas to support the pipeline during the transition and beyond.


All of this is interesting because people are in wait-and-see mode. I spent the weekend with a Capitol Hill staffer friend this weekend -- he works for a Republican -- and we spent time talking about the campaign, of course. Both of us were, frankly, disappointed. There was so much excitement -- particularly around Obama's campaign and the mantra of change. The June 9, 2008 cover of The Economist proclaimed it "America at its best."


Both candidates have their flaws and their admirable points; the doughty but sometimes cranky old warrior makes a fine contrast with the inspirational but sometimes vaporous young visionary. Voters now have those five months to study them before making up their minds (and The Economist will be doing the same). But, on the face of it, this is the most impressive choice America has had for a very long time.


I hope the candidates live up to The Economist's proclamation as being the "best."

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jul 21, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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