Barack Obama embraced technology and science during his presidency, and for his last official act in office he threw the tech industry a rose.
Obama signed into law a bill called the TALENT Act that will perpetuate his Presidential Innovation Fellowship program. That program, which launched in 2012, recruits talented techies to work on projects that advance innovation and benefit the federal government. Engineers, executives and technicians earn fellowships that pay them robust stipends for solving the problems of federal agencies through technology innovations. The fellowships can last up to two years.
An executive order signed in 2015 made the program permanent but the Obama administration was wary of the incoming Trump administration’s promise to undo Obama’s executive actions, without real regard for what they did. So getting the program through Congress and into law was, to paraphrase former Vice President Joe Biden, “a big f—–g deal.”
Consumer Technology Association (CTA) president/CEO Gary Shapiro has been an ardent supporter of government partnerships with the technology industry. CTA’s Digital Patriots Dinner, held every April in Washington, honors those legislators who work toward advancing innovation through the legislative process.