Some information technology contractors welcomed an announcement by President Obama on Wednesday that he proposes investing in infrastructure, such as advanced air traffic tech, as a way of stimulating the economy -- but expresses nervousness about how he intends to compensate for the cost.
In Ohio, Obama said, "We want to put more Americans back to work rebuilding America -- our roads, our railways, our runways." The fleshed-out plan involves focusing more money on NextGen, a sweeping effort to update air traffic control by replacing radar-based guidance with satellite-based navigation by 2018.
Industry groups and Republicans reportedly care more about extending Bush administration tax-cuts for the wealthy that are set to expire at the end of 2010.
The president did not mince words in saying he is against a continuation of the Bush-era income-tax rates.
"With all the other budgetary pressures we have -- with all the Republicans' talk about wanting to shrink the deficit -- they would have us borrow $700 billion over the next 10 years to give a tax cut of about $100,000 each to folks who are already millionaires," Obama said.
Recently, the White House also has taken great care to warn businesses that the administration is not afraid to freeze or dismantle IT projects that are burning through taxpayer dollars without any indication of success. The Veterans Affairs Department killed 12 underperforming systems and, this summer, the White House put 30 major financial management systems on hold and put 26 mission-critical IT systems on a watchlist.
Trade group TechAmerica has told the Office of Management and Budget it wants to work with federal officials on fixing failing projects and reengineering the IT purchasing process -- but has opposed a wholesale halt on systems development. The association extended qualified support for Obama's new plan to spend more money on NextGen.
Industry members "applaud investments in 21st century infrastructure such as the modernization of America's air traffic control system," TechAmerica President and CEO Phil Bond said on Wednesday. "Still, many leaders in the private sector will remain uncertain until they understand the revenue raisers the president alluded to so briefly today. We would be disappointed to see any offsets that would constrain the very growth the president wants to promote."