May 28, 2009 By Matt Williams
With demand for hardware and software stalled by the economic recession, a growing number of technology vendors are hoping the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide them with some economic stimulus of their own.
Tough reporting and tracking requirements for stimulus spending that are coming little by little from the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are spurring new software tools from big vendors like Microsoft, SAP and others that are tailored specifically for the management of stimulus projects.
Though it's not surprising that software companies would try to capitalize upon the Recovery Act to offer new products, the quick pace of their development has been unusual. And vendors and government officials agree that quick deployments are vital in this case. The first deadline set by the OMB for stimulus reporting is Oct. 10.
"These dollars are going to be watched closer than any federal dollar that has ever come out of the Treasury," said Dave Quam, the director of federal relations for the National Governors Association. "We're talking Congress, reporters, states, locals -- everyone is going to be watching this money. You might be able to know exactly where your tax dollar went at the end of the day. That's pretty remarkable considering where we are right now."
But challenges are ahead. States will be asked to do more than they've ever done before, Quam said. And the same burden of transparency and detailed recordkeeping has also been placed upon local governments. That's why software designed specifically for the stimulus is needed, vendors argue.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.