How much IT stimulus is required for a happy ending?

    Fill in the potholes. Add some new paint for the lines. Maybe add those fancy corrugations that tell you when you're drifting out of your lane on the highway. Cool huh?

    What am I writing about? The new digi-deal of course. The plan by the new President to "...renew our information superhighway".

    That's what it is all about! The plan, released early in December that will spend a large amount of money on information technology was naturally well received by CIO's, CTO's and tech workers. It was seen by many as a very real way to stimulate the economy and, as we all hear, the economy needs some serious stimulation. This was without any specification as to how much was going to be spent...but that's unimportant - isn't it?

    Motherhood, Apple pie and IT spending - its all good…

    We're all told constantly that 2 months, in internet time, is light years in the future. So how has the stimulus bill fared in the 2 intervening months?

    Well its done okay, considering. The Economic Stimulus package looks like it will get signed Monday or so and contains a solid chunk of change, about $50 Billion, of IT specific investments.

    Of course, if that amount turns out to be the majority of all the federal spending on IT this year, it will be much the same amount as last , when an estimated at $70 Billion was spent federally. So we have a figure, but not the final tally as of yet. I can't be that cynical - can I?

    Anyway, many (I have read 3 blogs so far) are saying that we should also count other programs as under the IT initiatives umbrella, including things like "green" initiatives and health record digitization, and therefore credit should be further given for IT spend. The actual amounts are difficult to determine however.

    And of course that's the real issue here, isn't it.

    Credit. How do you get it? And if you can actually get some, should you use it?

    I do not know a CIO or CTO in this economy who is not reviewing their ability to purchase equipment and implement IT initiatives. They are waiting to see- frozen in interweb time - how the stimulus will effect the economy, and wondering whether or not it will result in a happy ending for the IT industry. Not many of the people I speak to are direct recipients of state and federal funding. so it will take some time for anything spent this way to impact revenue figures or change perceptions for small to medium sized business organizations.

    For me the IT stimulus is an excellent first step, but the best things the President could do right now is:

    • Fill his vacant CTO role;

    • Review the spending of a measly $7 Billion on moving us from 15th in the developed world for broadband accessibility

    • Follow through on his campaign platforms of Investing in science as well as Making permanent the R&D tax credit; and

    • Provide Tax credits on other technology spending

    That's when you will see me smiling and relaxed.

    written by John Hendry