SAN JOSE, Calif. A group of at least a dozen large computer and communications companies is proposing a set of high tech projects they'd like to see funded with money earmarked for technology goals under the recently passed economic stimulus package.
The group is not ready to talk publically about the details of its proposal or even who exactly is behind it or which agencies they are meeting. However, they hope within the next two months to be able to announce some successes.
They believe if the government handles the stimulus funds correctly it could create the digital equivalent of the interstate highway system, a stimulus built under President Dwight Eisenhower that had long-lasting benefits.
One of the other hand, "we hope the current administration does a lot more with this money than filling potholes," said Rich Friedrich a director who oversees collaborative research efforts at HP Labs and is one of several executives currently making proposals on behalf of the IT industry to various agencies in Washington D.C.
"I have carried written letters of support from as many as 12 vice presidents of IT companies," Friedrich said. "We want to make sure the IT industry is well represented [in discussions about spending stimulus funds] because Silicon Valley is a long way from Washington geographically, culturally and historically," he said.
Friedrich would only say the IT companies involved include "the usual suspects" and the proposals are about "programs that could help the industry and the nation."
The IT effort is likely one of many as companies angle for a slice of the stimulus pie.
Government departments involved in energy, health care and commerce are currently scrambling to figure out how to spend tens of billions of dollars allocated to project areas such as smart grids, health care IT, broadband access and basic research. The stimulus package defined amounts and broad areas where to spend them but left open to agencies exactly how they dole out the money.
The agencies are generally expected release in the next two months requests for proposals that partnerships representing many interests, including electronics vendors, are expected to bid on. As they frame those requests, vendors are proactively courting the government agencies to share their ideas "about what's possible," Friedrich said.
"I've been spending more time in Washington than ever before because the stimulus package is giving us more than we had to work with before," said Friedrich. "There are many nations including China and even countries like Chile that are much more thoughtful about their science and technology policy than the U.S., but the new administration is being more supportive," he added.