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Does the American Jobs Plan drive innovation?

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Advances in the digital age require smart federal investment in technology and R & D.

The United States seen from orbit. Photo provider: NASA

Following the Biden Harris administration and parliamentary legislature is negotiations on major infrastructure bills to spur economic recovery. The American Jobs Plan proposal sparked fierce political debate about the exact meaning of infrastructure, but in the 21st century there is widespread consensus that digital infrastructure in our country is as important as roads and bridges. Is between political parties. President Biden said he was aware of the changing priorities and was in the midst of a tremendous fourth industrial revolution, proposing over $ 200 billion in technology-related investment.

But the devil is in detail that has not yet been revealed. Increasing the budget without a modern approach will only lead to a slight improvement in the status quo. The bill needs to address three key areas to drive fundamental changes in generations and technological advances.

Make the United States a leader in smart infrastructure

The construction industry is one of the slowest adopters of modern technology due to its decentralized nature and incentives for inconsistency. The proposed $ 621 billion transportation infrastructure will be spent on road paving and bridge construction without rethinking modern technology, and the trend of US underinvestment in research and development (R & D) and smart infrastructure will continue. Then you will miss a big chance.

Technology opportunities are immeasurable. Connected cities and highways with state-of-the-art sensors and communications can bring traffic deaths closer to zero in the not too distant future. Improved IT infrastructure helps public transport networks provide better service to marginalized communities. Leading construction and infrastructure technology startups such as Fieldwire and Unearthand Sitetracker are just a few of the Dcodes accelerator portfolios, but they save a lot of money and efficiency and have a significant impact per dollar invested in infrastructure. It has the potential to increase and modernize the entire construction sector. ..

The American Jobs Plan is an opportunity to do this, requiring only a fraction of the total spending proposed to make the United States a clear world leader after lagging behind its smart infrastructure peers.

Reinvent R & D using venture capital best practices

President Biden and parliamentary leaders have correctly focused on regaining investment in R & D from current historic lows. However, simply adding zero to the amount invested in a particular area risks throwing good money after bad. Government investment in R & D has not changed significantly for more than 40 years, when there were few private-equity communities or corporate R & D investment programs.

It is time for the government to adopt new best practices from the private sector for research and development. You should invest like 2021 instead of 1980.

The approach adopted by the Air Force AF Ventures program and the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit is a good starting point for how governments recognize and leverage private sector investment to improve results and increase taxpayer returns on technology investment. Provide. The other is Brookings’ proposal to fund R & D through a government-owned capital investment, similar to the approach pioneered by the CIA’s venture arm, In-Q-Tel.

Structurally reform government procurement

Hundreds of thousands of civil servants across federal, state, and local governments are responsible for contracting and subsidizing the implementation of the goals of the infrastructure bill.

The bill will more effectively use the proposed $ 2.3 trillion federal spending by expanding investment in a specialized center of excellence within the government and modernizing technology and procurement training programs for government employees. We can guarantee that you will.

Dcode has worked with hundreds of government leaders through workshops and training programs to help them change the way they do business. Modernization training and activation for government leaders, operators and procurement professionals is an important next step in institutionalizing these efforts.

With proper investment in these areas, Congress has the opportunity to change our country’s technological infrastructure for the next generation.

Nate Ashton is Dcode’s Managing Director of Public Policy and Policy Advisor to The Alliance for Commercial Technology in Government, focusing on policy reforms to improve the government’s use of emerging technologies. He previously led Dcodes’ technology sector involvement and accelerator programs, connecting emerging technology, US government, and industry stakeholders across areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and space technology.

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