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

President Obama’s proposed $3.5 trillion budget does not lack for big ideas.

And that’s good. Big ideas, especially in the areas of technology development and deployment, are just what we need. As Steve Ballmer told the Democratic Caucus last month, innovation must reclaim its status as the engine that drives our economy.

“America really has to return to growth that's built on innovation and productivity, rather than leverage and private debt,” Ballmer said. “The time has come when we need to renew our innovation capacity.”

The president’s budget proposal makes unequivocal commitments to innovation through significant investments in science and technology research, modernizing our energy infrastructure and expanding the use of electronic medical records and health IT.

In the realm of basic research, the Obama administration plans to double the funding for key science programs over the next decade. The budget proposes large increases in funding for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. The budget provides $70 million for the Technology Innovation Program, which invests in high-impact research that will address critical national needs and advance innovation.

The budget also addresses both green technology and support for green jobs. President Obama is proposing major investments to develop and demonstrate smart grid technologies, and increased funding for graduate fellowship programs that will train students in sustainable energy-related fields.

Finally, building on the billions of dollars to support electronic health records contained in the recently enacted stimulus package, the budget includes additional investments to implement health IT, which the administration calls “an essential tool to modernize the health care system.” Using technology to modernize the health care system and improve health outcomes is a major priority for Microsoft, and we have been privileged to provide our input to Congress as it considers what role the federal government can play in advancing health IT.

Expectations for the president’s innovation policies are high, and the budget makes it clear that these are high-priority issues for the administration. We at Microsoft are pleased that technological and scientific innovation are getting the attention they deserve from President Obama, since they can play a crucial role in moving the economy forward again.