Goodbye Tech Admnistration, hello Tech Council

Today is the first date of the federal government’s fiscal year (never mind that most of the government is still running under a continuing resolution rather than a real budget — but that is another story that has to do with history and politics). As such, it is also the day that the Commerce Department’s Technology Administration (TA) and the Undersecretary of Commerce for Technology disappears. The elimination of these offices was part of the recently enacted America COMPETES Act (the one part I was not happy about). In place of the Undersecretary and TA, the Commerce Secretary has created a Technology Council to coordinate technology programs within the Department. Missing from this equation, however, is a home for technology policy and analysis within the Department.
This new structure makes clear that the locus of policy making on technology issues has shifted to the White House for any overarching approach to technology, with each particular agency taking the lead on the specific narrow issues of interest (i.e. broadband, IP, tech funding etc.) Whether the Commerce Dept Technology Council and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy are enough to drive a coherent policy remains to be seen. We may just be back where we were in the mid 1980’s when we created the Technology Administration in the first place.

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