CXO

IT pros show modest interest in public policy, survey reveals

A recent TechRepublic survey found that IT consultants may be only somewhat interested in the legislative issues affecting the IT industry. These respondents do admit they will need to be more politically active in the future to protect their interests.


As Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore prepare to face off in the U.S. Presidential election this November, both are polishing their respective technology agendas.

If elected, Bush promises to encourage high-tech entrepreneurship and investment in R&D, accelerate e-government, and increase access to assistive technologies for the disabled. Gore, on the other hand, pledges to target investments in new technology to create jobs and economic growth; and improve the delivery of health care, education, and basic government services. He’s also touting the Electronic Bill of Rights, which would protect privacy online.

But what does it all mean for you, the IT consultant? Will the IT industry be greatly affected by the new president in the White House next January?

According to a recent survey, TechRepublic members have a somewhat complacent attitude about lobbying and legislation where technology is concerned. Here are the results.

Are you familiar with the political action group, Technology Network?
An overwhelming 91 percent of respondents answered no when asked if they knew of Technology Network. A mere 9 percent were aware of the coalition of senior executives of leading technology companies whose mission is to influence legislators on IT industry issues. The organization claims some credit for the 1999 Congressional appropriation of $126 million for IT research, including a 31 percent increase in funding for computer and information science and engineering programs.

Few engage in lobbying, other advocacy
When asked whether they are involved in any lobbying or political efforts on behalf of their company or industry, a surprising 81 percent said they were not. Only 19 percent are active in such efforts.

While a larger number—44 percent—responded that they belong to a professional IT interest organization, a majority of 56 percent does not.

Those who did admit to active political advocacy were asked where they concentrated their lobbying and political efforts to benefit their business. Respondents to this question answered this way:
  • National laws and regulations—50 percent
  • Local laws and regulations—26 percent
  • State or regional laws and regulations—24 percent

When asked to pinpoint policy areas of importance, the respondents’ concerns were found to be all over the map. They gave these answers:
  • Security—24 percent
  • Government regulation—22 percent
  • Taxes—17 percent
  • Telecommunications—17 percent
  • Immigration visa expansion program—13 percent
  • Lawsuits—7 percent

Respondents promise increased political involvement
Despite their tepid views on lobbying for the IT industry at present, those who completed the survey expected their level of advocacy to swell in the future. The question, “Which of the following statements best reflects your views?” brought these responses:
  • As IT issues become more important in the future, IT professionals will have to lobby more effectively for their interests—88 percent
  • IT professionals haven't had to do much lobbying in the past, and I expect that to continue—12 percent

So it seems that despite their current moderate level of involvement in lobbying on behalf of the IT industry, the substantial majority of respondents will not stand idly by to merely let elected officials make the decisions.
Is political involvement important for IT pros? Should an IT consultant be willing to lobby on behalf of clients? To share your thoughts, post a comment below or send us a note.
As Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore prepare to face off in the U.S. Presidential election this November, both are polishing their respective technology agendas.

If elected, Bush promises to encourage high-tech entrepreneurship and investment in R&D, accelerate e-government, and increase access to assistive technologies for the disabled. Gore, on the other hand, pledges to target investments in new technology to create jobs and economic growth; and improve the delivery of health care, education, and basic government services. He’s also touting the Electronic Bill of Rights, which would protect privacy online.

But what does it all mean for you, the IT consultant? Will the IT industry be greatly affected by the new president in the White House next January?

According to a recent survey, TechRepublic members have a somewhat complacent attitude about lobbying and legislation where technology is concerned. Here are the results.

Are you familiar with the political action group, Technology Network?
An overwhelming 91 percent of respondents answered no when asked if they knew of Technology Network. A mere 9 percent were aware of the coalition of senior executives of leading technology companies whose mission is to influence legislators on IT industry issues. The organization claims some credit for the 1999 Congressional appropriation of $126 million for IT research, including a 31 percent increase in funding for computer and information science and engineering programs.

Few engage in lobbying, other advocacy
When asked whether they are involved in any lobbying or political efforts on behalf of their company or industry, a surprising 81 percent said they were not. Only 19 percent are active in such efforts.

While a larger number—44 percent—responded that they belong to a professional IT interest organization, a majority of 56 percent does not.

Those who did admit to active political advocacy were asked where they concentrated their lobbying and political efforts to benefit their business. Respondents to this question answered this way:
  • National laws and regulations—50 percent
  • Local laws and regulations—26 percent
  • State or regional laws and regulations—24 percent

When asked to pinpoint policy areas of importance, the respondents’ concerns were found to be all over the map. They gave these answers:
  • Security—24 percent
  • Government regulation—22 percent
  • Taxes—17 percent
  • Telecommunications—17 percent
  • Immigration visa expansion program—13 percent
  • Lawsuits—7 percent

Respondents promise increased political involvement
Despite their tepid views on lobbying for the IT industry at present, those who completed the survey expected their level of advocacy to swell in the future. The question, “Which of the following statements best reflects your views?” brought these responses:
  • As IT issues become more important in the future, IT professionals will have to lobby more effectively for their interests—88 percent
  • IT professionals haven't had to do much lobbying in the past, and I expect that to continue—12 percent

So it seems that despite their current moderate level of involvement in lobbying on behalf of the IT industry, the substantial majority of respondents will not stand idly by to merely let elected officials make the decisions.
Is political involvement important for IT pros? Should an IT consultant be willing to lobby on behalf of clients? To share your thoughts, post a comment below or send us a note.

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