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High Tech Policy

GovsPortraitNGA2008.jpgFrom Saturday, February 23rd to Monday, February 26th, the National Governors Association held its Annual Winter Meeting in Washington DC which focused on clean energy and what Governors can do to help make”green” in the U.S. a reality.Current NGA Chair, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced his initiative, Securing a Clean Energy Future , at the 2007 Summer meeting in Traverse City. According to Gov. Pawlenty, “Governors and states are stepping forward to lead an energy revolution that will ‘Americanize’ our energy production in order to improve our national security, our economic well-being and our quality of life.”Although the topic is different, his comment made me think of last year’s winter meeting which focused on AZ Governor Napolitano’s platform of innovation and competitiveness and where Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, shared his views on how states can compete more effectively in the global economy by promoting innovation.The common threads that ran through this and last year’s presentations and discussions were: technology as the enabler, the importance of being technology neutral particularly in the formation of policies and collaboration (one national standard). Whether it was Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman or GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt or top Venture Capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Beyers, they all stressed”picking winners and losers” as a key thing to NOT do. Last year, John Chambers also emphasized the importance of collaboration amongst the Governors to find solutions which is similar to the themes echoed at this year’s Annual Winter Meeting and is critical when developing solutions that will have a broad impact. As GE CEO Jeff Immelt said,”50 state standards, guys, if you’re running a company [it] is a really tough way to run a railroad.” What also struck me was how the network and its intelligence is a significant enabler for making all of these”green” things happen whether it be the ‘smart grid,’ or the ‘smart home,” etc.In addition to agreeing that”green is good,” it is my hope that these are the key points that the Governors and other policy makers in attendance walked away with as well as that technology is pervasive in how we”live, work, play and learn.” IT should not be considered a”separate” bucket but rather that it is embedded in pretty much everything from roads/highways to healthcare to, yes, energy/green. Or, as Mr. Doerr puts it:”E.T.”

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