Warner: Make tech a priority

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LAS VEGAS In order to remain competitive on the world stage, the United States needs to renew its commitment to develop and implement information technology, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner of Old Town said last week at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.

Addressing a select group of attendees at the worlds largest technology gathering, Warner warned of the consequences of overlooking the significant role IT will play in the 2008 state and Federal elections.

I believe we are at a critical tipping point in our country where the publics frustration with the speed of change is going to push our political leadership of both parties to make the kinds of big transformative changes that have been sadly lacking, Warner said.

Warner, who spent 20 years in the telecom and IT industry, said he knows from experience just how much technology can help transform government.

Citing the $6 billion budget deficit that he faced when he took office in 2001, Warner described how he used technology to make the state more efficient.
I asked how much does the Commonwealth of Virginia spend on IT? he said. It took 9 months and about $200,000 in outside consultants to get an answer.

Based on that evaluation, the state implemented an internet-based purchasing system to make government expenditures more transparent as well as to leverage the states buying power.

We realized if we could push our purchasing power out of all state government to a simple portal we could use that as a way not only to track our purchases, but we could use that as a way to aggregate our purchasing power so that we could finally start to bring about the leverage any major enterprise would bring, Warner said.

Warner, who is campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. John Warner (R-VA) of Alexandria, also believes that bringing technology to a larger population via a stronger broadband infrastructure is key to keeping this country more competitive.

It is absolutely absurd to me that we, the nation of innovation, are in effect by not putting investment into broadband are leaving out two-thirds of our country in terms of being able to have a crack at the kinds of quality jobs and quality life experiences we all know and expect, he said.

Also attending this years CES was Tom Davis (R-VA), who delivered the keynote address Critical Crossroads: Effective Support Needed for IT and Management in Government.

Davis focused on the urgent need for industry-government collaboration and advocated for greater use of technology in critical government priorities.

In addition to his keynote address, Davis, who is Vice Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, was once again a featured panelist in the annual CES Congress Speaks Forum.

Joined by fellow colleagues Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Joe Barton (R-TX), Davis discussed the need for evolving legislation regarding intellectual property, digital television, trade and home recording rights.

But it was Warners comments that resonated most with those in the crowded Ritz-Carlton ballroom.

We still are a nation of innovation, and we still are the best place in the world to create intellectual property and the intellectual capital thats going to drive, not just this country, but the world further into this 21st century, he said.

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