Posted by Fred Humphries 
Managing Director, U.S. Government Affairs

I recently moved from Washington state, where I led Microsoft’s state government relations team, back to D.C. to assume my new role as Microsoft’s managing director for U.S. Government Affairs. 

My return to D.C. (I previously had the great privilege of working for then-House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt) comes at a time fraught with economic and political challenges. But it’s also a moment bursting with potential – the potential to think carefully about what our priorities should be and what investments we need to make to put our country on the path to a better future.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had the opportunity to speak to the House Democratic Caucus earlier today, discussing the important role technology can play in re-energizing the U.S. economy.  In his speech, which you can read here, Steve outlined his view that the US economy is going through a painful but necessary reset after years of unsustainable domestic and global growth fueled by private debt.  He talked about the extraordinary opportunities facing the technology industries, and how the continued expansion of computing, new form factors, access to information and data from anywhere and on any device, and new ways of interacting with our computers would open the way for innovation and solutions that are not even imaginable today. 

Steve Ballmer and Democratic leaders speak to reporters during the House Democratic Caucus retreat in Williamsburg, VA, February 6, 2009. Left to Right:  Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Steve Ballmer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA). Photo taken by Allison O’Brien.

While the current economic situation is obviously very difficult and affecting millions of Americans, Steve expressed his belief in the fundamentals of the American economy and his optimism that we could return to growth if we made the tough choices and invested for the long-term.

In his speech, Steve outlined several steps to lay the foundation for economic progress and recovery:

  • The government and private industry must invest in future technology. Despite this tough economy, Microsoft will invest more than $9 billion this year in R&D.  Government needs to recommit to funding basic research and implementing policies that support private sector R&D investment.
  • We need to invest in American workers by strengthening math and science education, and training today’s workforce in the skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy.
  • We need to deploy information technology throughout our nation’s infrastructure to lower costs and widen access to health care, energy and broadband for all Americans.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be back to elaborate on each of these areas in greater detail, along with other members of Microsoft’s public policy team.

Communication obviously is a two-way street. What do you think are the most pressing issues facing our nation, particularly on the technology front? I look forward to hearing your views and continuing our online conversation.