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Four Points for Technology in Politics From Obama's Jobs Plan

BY Nick Judd | Monday, September 12 2011

President Barack Obama was expected Monday to deliver legislation to Congress aimed at getting more Americans back to work. Photo: Natalie Maynor / Flickr

Here are four nuggets from the White House's jobs plan, initially laid out last week in a high-level overview of President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act and some related actions the White House is taking or already took, that I'll be looking for more details on as they come available. Obama was set Monday to send his legislation to Congress.

Points for technology in politics and government:

  • White House Headline: "Changing the Way the Government Does Business with Small Firms"
    • The Pitch: "The President is also directing his CIO and CTO to stand-up, within 90 days, BusinessUSA, a one-stop online platform that businesses could use to access the full range of government programs and services businesses they need to compete globally."
    • Interesting Because: The White House is planning to deploy a sophisticated online platform for external and internal communication. Not only is it a proposal to use technology to change how the White House deals with business, the tools the White House chooses to use for this platform will also be news — it should represent the latest in the administration's thinking on public engagement.
    • Best Read So Far: David Stegon, for FedScoop — "According to the White House, BusinessUSA will be a one-stop online platform will provide access to information about the full range of government programs and services businesses need to compete globally – and it will represent the next major accomplishment of the Open Government Initiative.
  • White House Headline: "Reducing Regulatory Burdens on Small Business Capital Formation"
    • The Pitch: "The administration also supports establishing a “crowdfunding” exemption from SEC registration requirements for firms raising less than $1 million (with individual investments limited to $10,000 or 10% of investors’ annual income) and raising the cap on “mini-offerings” (Regulation A) from $5 million to $50 million. This will make it easier for entrepreneurs to raise capital and create jobs."
    • Interesting Because: It would adjust federal policy to make more room for broad, loosely organized networks of people to do business with one another — something that will only become more prevalent in the 21st century.
    • Best Read So Far: Alex Howard, for The Atlantic's website — "There have now been more than 10,000 Kickstarter projects funded, with more than $75 million dollars pledged and a 44% success rate. This lightweight model for "crowdfunding" has caught the attention of the White House, which specifically highlighted how entrepreneurs are using Kickstarter to access capital -- and how President Obama's new "American Jobs Act" could extend that access to more high-growth companies."
  • White House Headline: "Expediting High Impact Infrastructure Projects"
    • The Pitch: "The President recently issued a Presidential Memorandum in coordination with his Jobs Council directing departments and agencies to identify high impact, job-creating infrastructure projects that can be expedited through outstanding review and permitting processes within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government. The President also directed the creation of a Projects Dashboard to ensure the details of each project identified will be available for stakeholders to follow through the expedited review process and provide public input."
    • Interesting Because: This is the second beat on this drum in a week from the White House, which announced this memorandum on Aug. 31 — but it takes lessons learned from former White House Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra's Federal IT Dashboard and applies it in a new context. It's a chance for the White House to take a second swing at Recovery.gov.
    • Best Read So Far: If you've got one, note it in the comments below — I couldn't find anyone else who's drilled down on this specifically.
  • White House Headline: "Expanding Nationwide Wireless Internet Services For the Public and the First Responders, in a Fiscally Responsible Way"
    • The Pitch: "The plan follows the model in the bipartisan legislation from Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison in including an investment to develop and deploy a nationwide, interoperable wireless network for public safety. The plan includes reallocating the D Block for public safety (costing $3 billion) and $7 billion to support the deployment of this network and technological development to tailor the network to meet public safety requirements."
    • Interesting Because: The White House line on expanding broadband access to Americans heavily emphasizes wireless Internet over bringing high-speed lines to citizens' homes. At the same time, this proposal picks up plans to reallocate wireless spectrum to make room for a comprehensive wireless public safety network — funded through auctions of other parts of the spectrum. The thing to remember here is spectrum is a finite resource, some of which is allocated for volunteers who routinely form ad-hoc emergency communications networks in times of disaster. It's as much about money and shaping the future of the wireless Internet as it is about making sure first responders have access to first-rate communications.
    • Best Read So Far: Sara Jerome, for National Journal — "Congress must approve the spectrum auctions, which would be designed to entice television stations into going out of business, selling their share of the airwaves and taking the cash. Wireless companies are still pushing hard to move a bill this session, but various legislative efforts have fizzled. Thursday night, however, wireless industry lobbyists are having a good night. When Obama pitched lawmakers on swiftly passing the American Jobs Act, he made their job a lot easier."

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