13th annual Digital Patriots Dinner- Consumer Technology Association(CTA) -Washington DC
It's "more critical than ever that CTA play a role in governmental policies..." was appropriately in the opening word mix of Gary Shapiro, the President and CEO-who genuinely welcomed a congenial group of industry and political types from both sides of the 'AISLE'-to the first gathering, post the 2017 Presidential inauguration -of this influential trade group-and the force behind the massively popular CES show in Las Vegas.
The well packed cocktails/dinner- at the magnificent Smithsonian American Art Museum + National Portrait Gallery ...officially launched CTA members' efforts during #CTATechWeek-that is an interactive human push "to work with anyone elected...to move our nation forward..."
|Early evening meet/greet-(CTA Pres/CEO Gary Shapiro and Rep. Will Hurd & staff)-appropriately enough-in front of the Nelson Shank's portrait of other ground breaking individuals-The Four Justices -a tribute to the four women who have served as Supreme Court Justices...|
The major spoken themes touched on by Shapiro and the four award winners, all members of the House - align with CTA's mission--- including shaping public policies to encourage positive 'disruption' --- to continue to drive a thriving tech industry that supports over 13 million American jobs, to achieve a pro-active tax policy deal and policies that allow for retaining the educated talent that come here for advanced degrees ... and the frankly enormous need to update the Federal government's IT infrastructure.
|the Honorable Will Hurd (R-TX) and Tiffany Moore|
The first honoree-a former CIA undercover agent-the Honorable Will Hurd (R-TX) -Chair of the House IT subcommittee-gave a shout-out to Aggies, thanked his political mentors-and remarked-to serious applause- how as "...a Black Republican from an Hispanic district...bipartisanship can exist because innovation has no party..."
"Ridiculous" was Hurd's frank assessment that 80% of the 80 Billion dollars spent on Federal IT systems-is spent on legacy systems...while on a more positive note he declared, (rightly so) that "CES is one of the greatest things...a whole lot unites us...(and) technology can change lives."
The next award recipient -was the Honorable Eric Swalwell (D-CA) a tech savvy Snap Chatter-and with another lead supporter- Rep. Hurd, successfully passed the Government Travel Modernization Act -allowing Federal employees to get reimbursed for using sharing-economy transportation modes (Lyft, Uber). His joke (assuming it was)-that as a father to be- he was gifted a baby monitor by Russians-drew a lot of laughs---before remarks focused on the serious business of bipartisanship efforts-including working with his colleague Darrell Issa ( R-CA- the wealthiest House member)...because "...the innovation economy reaches everyone, everywhere...(that) there are still clusters of opportunity in this country but there are a lot of places that technology hasn't reached (aka the digital divide)...something both parties can work on"... (together). Finishing with "innovate or die." Rep. Swalwell smartly sits on the House Committee on Science, Technology and Space and co-founded/co-shares the Sharing Economy Caucus.
A rare successful work background-for a Congress member -as an entrepreneur and a long-time employee of big tech (Microsoft) -the next award recipient, the Honorable Suzan DelBene (D-WA) is 'the ultimate champion of patent reform' and co-chair of the Congressional Internet of Things Caucus and co-chair of the Women's High Tech Coalition. We immediately gave her a two thumbs up for her half-joking suggestion that CTA's CES tradeshow switch its early January date-as preparation for it meaningfully cuts into family holiday time. Then switching tones-Rep. DelBene recounted her work as a privacy advocate ...working on an email privacy act to ensure that Americans have "the privacy protection they think they have..."(yikes), bringing Congressional policies up to the 21st century, and educating children -pushing for continued funding of our future workforce-via funds for "Computer Science For All" initiative-to close the digital divide.
Another Washington State visionary and entrepreneur (and the state that placed #1 for this year's CTA's third annual Innovation Scorecard)---the Honorable Cathy McMorris Rodgers aka "CMR"...is the House Republican Conference Chair 'committed to helping companies overcome regulatory challenges' and got ALL of her Party colleagues on social media via the "New Media Challenge."
"I am committed to positive disruption...working across the aisle to get it done..." Rodgers commented-which includes rethinking programs and agencies. As an example, a success -the Veterans Administration's user friendly, 21st century online medical appointment scheduling service (vs calling a 1-800 line) -that was legislation passed under the Obama administration, using available (cheaper) off the shelf technology...was cited.
Optimistically Rodgers finished with the action words we all want to hear:
"We're just getting started."
At our table-which included key individuals from an internationally dominate electronics company and sponsor, Samsung, small business - IT services owners from the Midwest, and a California resident immigrant inventor-entrepreneur ...the major issues-aka THE source of serious anxiety = "tax policies"-and any 'reforms' that might include a border adjustment tax and/or VAT...that would tax consumption. The level of uncertainty underscored a change in mindset (imo) from last year's gathering...which seemed more optimistic in tone.
All proceeds from the Digital Patriots Dinner-$50,000 was donated to the Consumer Technology Association Foundation launched in 2012 with the mission to link seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives.