Opinion

Obama listens and Maude calls for cuts. Notice a difference?

Here is an exercise in compare and contrast that shows the differences in approach between two nations both trying to do the best for their economies and their people.

You are running the country, or are at least are in the inside loop with the leadership team, and you look in your diary and there is an appointment with some tech bosses.

The UK approach, as handled by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, is to get them in and start giving them a lecture about how these are tough times and they need to cut the costs of their contracts and give more value back to the government. Everyone has to sign a memorandum or understanding to agree to cut costs and apart from a few cracks in the facade meant to be happy about it.

The emphasis is on cutting costs, talk of value and generally sharing the misery left by the global economic crisis.

The US approach, as demonstrated by the President Barack Obama yesterday, was to get some of the most important IT CEOs together in the White House to talk about business. Walking into the plush surroundings of the President's home and office yesterday were Michael Dell, Samuel Palmisano of IBM and Ursula Burns from Xerox.

Obama reportedly picked the brains of the tech bosses on jobs, education and taxes. The reported comment from Burns was that the meeting was "productive" and the President voiced concerns about the need for more maths and science teaching.

The bosses didn't leave having to swallow cuts and take back an MOU to their board rooms but instead went away hopefully working out how they can play a positive role in the recovery.

Perhaps there are some lessons there about how government can work with the tech sector? 

This was first published in February 2011

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