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Chopra Chided at CES

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By Gautham Nagesh January 8, 2010

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Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra spoke at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday and his message was one that should be familiar to Nextgov readers: He spoke abstractly of making government more open to innovation and specifically emphasized the importance of standards in health information technology.

However, the most interesting part of the speech came when Consumer Electronics Association chief Gary Shapiro took a swipe at Chopra and the federal government, implying that the the latter often stands in the way of technology firms attempting to innovate. From the BBC:

"When it comes to innovation there's a lot the government can do, and there's a lot they should not do," said consumer industry head Gary Shapiro.

"The government doesn't spur innovation or entrepreneurship. The government often gets in the way," said Mr Shapiro.

. . . "High taxes and regulatory bureaucracy are barriers."

In response, Mr Chopra said the CEA's criticisms had some weight.

"We don't have to agree on every issue, but we can always say we have room for improvement to spur innovation and entrepreneurship," said Mr. Chopra during a CES press conference.

"We have to eat our own dogfood -- Gary is right about the federal deficit. We are in an economic crisis but we are going to tackle it. We have to get this right," Mr Chopra told journalists.

He said the US government was planning a summit with a number of chief executives from the "most innovative companies in the country to directly advise us to make government more efficient and more effective".

Chopra also said the government's ability to spur the economy is limited:

"We always have room for improvement," Chopra said. "At the end of the day, the private sector is what creates jobs."
Interesting quote from a senior official in an Administration that may be preparing a second stimulus plan precisely because it believes that the government can create jobs.

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