16:44 PM

Tech Leaders Lobby Washington With Vague Policies

I know they mean well, but tech execs are really bad at lobbying Washington.

Earlier, I wrote about the tech policy agenda unveiled by top US tech executives, all members of the Technet organization. [Please see ZDNet: Tech giants reveal their agenda.]

A short time later, I took another look at the news release to re-read the vague wording in much of Technet's 2008 Innovation Policy Agenda.

Take a look at the number one policy issue:

Green Technologies Initiative: Promote and highlight new technologies and innovation as a critical part of the solution to national security, economic competitiveness and global energy and environmental challenges and encourage a national commitment for investment in and adoption of innovative green technologies...

The vague wording appears pandering rather than a leading Green initiative.

Technet's second, third, and fourth most important issues are:

Education and 21st Century Workforce: Develop initiatives to improve science and math education, and increase the number of Americans attaining degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through new programs and resources that strengthen our public schools.

Immigration Reform: Promote comprehensive highly skilled immigration reform including an increase in the H-1B visa cap and reforms to the employment-based green card process to ensure the U.S. has a highly skilled workforce.

Basic Research:
Support strong national investments in research and development through increased federal funding for basic research and a permanent R&D tax credit.

All worthy issues and vaguely expressed in a very familiar way.

I would say that the last four items on Technet's Policy Agenda are far more immediately important than the others:

Patent Litigation Reform: Advance proposals with the goal of ending abusive lawsuits brought by plaintiffs using patents as a means of obtaining settlements from legitimate technology businesses.

Trade and Public Diplomacy: Work closely with national policymakers to enact trade agreements that strengthen our companies through expanded market access overseas. Our members increasingly rely on international markets for growth and we will work to support legislative efforts to enter those markets as well as agreements that guard and protect intellectual property. TechNet will also support public diplomacy initiatives, expanded trade as well as dialogue with policymakers regarding key issues including China policy.

Broadband and Internet Policy: Provide strong support for the growth and vitality of the Internet and accelerated broadband deployment by advocating for consumer access to Internet content and services and a permanent Internet tax moratorium.

Sarbanes-Oxley Rational Relief: Work to reduce the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s compliance burdens and impacts on small companies, while maintaining the integrity of the Act’s corporate governance goals. This will reduce unnecessary costs and mitigate unintended consequences of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that are impacting innovation.

I constantly hear about those four issues from tech execs. Yet they are buried at the end of a long news release filled with salutations and other important quotes:


Senator Patrick Leahy represents a true visionary when it comes to leadership on innovation and technology issues in the United States Senate," said John Chambers, Cisco Chairman and CEO and co-founder of TechNet. "We are so pleased to honor his stellar service as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and steadfast leadership on issues ranging from preserving intellectual property, promoting green technology, improving our education system and clearly seeing how cutting edge discovery grows our economy and improves our way of life."

. . .

"It is in our nation’s long-term strategic interest to maintain a robust system that effectively balances the need to facilitate new idea generation and reward innovators," said Art Coviello, Co-Chair of TechNet New England and President of RSA, The Security Division of EMC. . .

. . .

“Representative Chris Cannon has been an outstanding champion of the technology industry, as demonstrated by his tireless and successful efforts of enhancing cyber crime laws, championing intellectual property protections, supporting high skilled immigration reform and modernizing the nation’s patent laws,” said David Thompson, group president, Symantec IT and Services Group...

My suggestion would be to drop the cliche quotes, and then republish the policy agenda in reverse order.



Craig Barrett Chairman, Intel Corporation

John Chambers Chairman & CEO, Cisco Systems

John Doerr Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Robert Greifeld President & CEO, NASDAQ

Cathy Kinney President & Co-COO, NYSE Group


Tom Alberg Managing Director, Madrona Venture Group

Eric Benhamou Chairman & CEO, Benhamou Global Ventures

Aart de Geus President & CEO, Synopsys

Paul Deninger Chairman, Jeffries Broadview

Bob Grady Managing Director, The Carlyle Group

Arthur Levinson President & CEO, Genentech

Steve Papermaster Chairman of the Board, Powershift Ventures

William A. Roper, Jr. President & CEO, VeriSign

Joseph M. Tucci Chairman & CEO, EMC Corporation

Mark Zanoli Managing Director, JPMorgan