Political pressure

FRAMINGHAM (01/16/2004) - That information technology is not a hot-button political issue in this year's election shouldn't surprise anyone. Politicians, like the rest of us, are driven by what they can measure, and basic data barely exists upon which they can take a stand on IT issues. The Census Bureau, which gathers most of the data on U.S. business activity, requested funds for the first detailed annual survey of corporate IT expenditures only last year.

Furthermore, there isn't an obvious constituency for technology policy the way there is for and against gun control. The voice listened to most often on any IT issue is that of vendors, whose views are shaped by what's best for their business. If those views happen to align with your business or the public good, you get, as the consultants would say, some nice synergy there.

What this means is that a lot of policy decisions that affect how we buy, sell, use (and are used by) IT have been made without much notice, and even less input, from most of us. As Staff Writer Ben Worthen tells us in "The Next President's IT Agenda", we ignore the politics of IT at our own peril. There's no question that the next president will chart the course of IT for years to come. There is only the question of whether those decisions will be to our benefit or detriment. Will they keep our country secure? Help your company prosper? Protect our privacy?

As an expert in the uses, abuses, promises and failures of IT, you have plenty to contribute to the policy-making process, starting with your vote. Turn to "Where the Candidates Stand" to find out what our team of writers and editors discovered about this year's contenders' top IT policy views. Factor that information into your vote, whether in the primaries this winter and spring or the final election Nov. 2.

But don't stop there. Weigh in on regulations and legislation. Get to know your congressman and senators -- whether it's as a CIO representing your company or as a citizen with an expert opinion. Our future depends on it.

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