|Bush Awards National Medals of Technology
2/13. President Bush gave a
and presented National Medals of Technology (NMT) and National Medals of Science
(NMS), at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Monday, February 13.
NMT Awardees. Two individuals received NMTs. First, one medal was awarded to
Ralph Baer, who is now an engineering consultant.
He was rewarded for his "groundbreaking and pioneering creation, development and
commercialization of interactive video games".
Another medal was awarded to Roger Easton. He received the NMT for "extensive
pioneering achievements in spacecraft tracking, navigation and timing technology
that led to the development of the NAVSTAR-Global Positioning System", mostly
back in the 1950s and 1960s.
The remaining five medals were given to corporations. One medal was given to
Gen-Probe Inc. for developing and
commercializing blood testing technologies and systems for detecting viral
diseases. Gen-Probe was represented at the ceremony by Henry Nordhoff, its Chairman,
President and CEO. Nordhoff has an MBA in international business and finance.
Another medal was given to IBM-Microelectronics Division for "four decades of
innovation in semiconductor technology". This is the eighth time in twenty years
that IBM, or its employees, have been given a NMT.
an EVP of IBM, represented IBM at the event.
Motorola was given a NMT for "over 75
years of achievement and leadership in mobile communications". It was represented
by Padmasree Warrior, an Executive Vice President of Motorola.
PACCAR Inc. was given a NMT for
"development and commercialization of aerodynamic, lightweight trucks". Its
Chairman and CEO, Mark Pigott, represented the company.
Finally, a medal was given to
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), which is
a subsidiary of Lucasfilm Ltd. George Lucas formed ILM to provide special
effects for his first Star Wars movie. ILM also provides visual effects for the
entertainment industry. It was represented by Chrissie England, its President,
and George Lucas, its Chairman.
NMS Awardees. Eight people received the NMS.
an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University, received the NMS for
his work in economics. His Nobel prize winning career is built upon his "Arrow's
Social Choice and Individual Values [Amazon], first published in 1951.
In recent years, Arrow has assisted ProComp in its efforts pertaining to the
Department of Justice's (DOJ) antitrust action against Microsoft, and
telecommunications carriers and cable companies in legislative and regulatory
relations. See, for example, story titled "ProComp Opposes Microsoft Antitrust
Settlement" in TLJ
Daily E-Mail Alert No. 356, January 29, 2002, and story titled "Nobel
Economists Comment on Broadband Regulation" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 426, May 7, 2002. See also,
comment [PDF] filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by Arrow
and others regarding regulatory treatment of broadband services. Vint Cerf, who now
lobbies for Google, was awarded a NMT by former
President Clinton. He was present at the White House ceremony on Monday.
Norman Borlaug of Texas A&M University was awarded the NMS for his work in
developing high yielding wheat.
Robert Clayton of the University of Chicago was awarded the NMS for his work
on the evolution of the solar system.
Edwin Lightfoot of the University of Wisconsin at Madison was awarded the NMS
for his research in transport phenomena and blood oxygenation.
Stephen Lippard of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was
awarded the NMS for his work regarding anti-cancer drugs.
Phillip Sharp of the MIT was awarded the NMS for his work on RNA interference
Thomas Starzl of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine was awarded
the NMS for his work in organ transplantation and immunology.
Dennis Sullivan of the City University of New York Graduate Center & State
University of New York at Stony Brook was awarded the NMS for his contributions
to the field of mathematics.
Awards Ceremony. President Bush presented the medals at a White House ceremony on
Monday morning, February 13. The NMS medals are attached to ribbons, like Olympic medals,
and the Congressional Medal of Honor. President Bush placed the medals around the necks of
each of the winners. They then shook hands and posed for photographs.
Five of the seven winners of the National Medals of Technology were
corporations. These medals came in boxes. Corporations have no necks.
Neither the awardees of the NMT or the NMS spoke at the ceremony.
(Secretary of Commerce), John
Marburger (Director of the Executive Office of the President's
Office of Science and Technology Policy), and other
government officials, were present, but did not speak at the ceremony.
There was also a dinner ceremony on Monday night. See,
speech by Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Sampson, and
pictures. Sampson praised and summarized President Bush's innovation agenda.
Bush's Speech. Bush gave a
at the Monday ceremony. He spoke about the NMS and NMT and about his package of
policy proposals for promoting innovation. He made clear that he views the award
of these NMSs and NMTs as part of an overall plan to incent, promote and reward
President Bush announced his innovation agenda during his state of the union
on January 31, 2006. See, story titled "Bush Announces American Competitiveness
Agenda" in TLJ
Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,301, February 1, 2006.
On January 31 Bush announced that the purpose of his "American
Competitiveness Agenda" is "to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and
to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science."
He elaborated in his speech to the Congress that "First, I propose to double
the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical
sciences over the next 10 years. ... Second, I propose to make permanent the research
and development tax credit to encourage bolder private-sector initiatives in technology.
With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of
life -- and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades
to come. Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make
sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations."
In his February 13 speech Bush discussed his American Competitiveness Agenda.
He said that "I've talked about an American Competitiveness Initiative that will double
over the next 10 years the federal commitment to the most critical, basic
research programs in the physical sciences. I think that's a good use of
taxpayers' money. ... we have got to spend money now to make sure we stay on the
leading edge of technological change."
He added that "We've also got to recognize it's in the private sector where most
money is spent on research and development, yet we unwisely have allowed the research and
development tax credit to expire. If the United States expects to remain
competitive in a global economy, we must encourage our private sector to
continue to invest in leading-edge technologies, and therefore, we ought to make
the research and development tax credit a permanent part of our tax code."
He also discussed the NMS and NMT programs. He said that "the National Medal
of Technology recognizes innovators whose work keeps America on the cutting edge with
discoveries that change the way we live".
"Our greatest resource has always been the educated, hardworking, ambitious
people who call this country their home." He later added that "this country will
be better off in making sure that we've got the future scientists and
mathematicians living right here in the United States of America." His speech
was carefully written to specify that it is people in the U.S., rather than
merely U.S. citizens, who provide the beneficial innovation. Moreover, the
wording of his speech specified that it is individuals who innovate. He added,
"revolutionary inventions began with men and women with the vision to see beyond
what is, and the desire to pursue what might be."
The words of his speech contrasted with his actions on the stage. He awarded five of the seven NMTs to corporations, rather than
individuals. Moreover, the NMT awards program discriminates against foreign
citizens. They are not eligible.
Bush also spoke about the importance of educating and incenting young people.
"We can't be the leading country in the world in science and technology unless
we educate scientists and young mathematicians. ... apply special money for kids
who need extra help in junior high for math and science".
He continued that "We can't make sure our children have got math and science
-- fine math and science courses unless we've got teachers capable of teaching
math and science. And one way to do that is to expand education to high school
teachers in how to teach advanced placement. Advanced placement programs work.
They make a significant difference in the lives of our children."
He said that "we want young kids to think math and science -- math and science are cool
subjects, that it's okay to be a mathematician, that it's exciting to be a scientist."
A high school class was present at the February 13 awards ceremony. Bush
said, "I hope that you are inspired by the examples of excellence and success that
you see right here in this ceremony today. You know, it's interesting, people
generally do not pursue a career in science or technology with the goal of fame.
I'm kind of trying to change that today. The work of discovery is quiet and
often solitary. Yet, all Americans benefit from your imagination and your talent
and your resolve."
The President did not explain why awarding medals to corporations, rather
than to innovative people, should incent young people to pursue innovation
|House Democrats Promote Their Innovation
2/14. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA),
and other House Democrats hosted an event in the Capitol Building on Tuesday,
February 14, at which they discussed
and promoted the "House
Democrats' Innovation Agenda"
The participants included Rep. Pelosi, Rep.
George Miller (D-CA), Rep. Hilda Solis
(D-CA), Rep. Kendrick Meek
(D-FL), and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).
The participants also included George Lucas, Chrissie England and other persons
associated with Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and
its parent corporation, Lucasfilm, Ltd.
The audience for this event was largely youthful staff and interns from Democratic
offices on Capitol Hill. Their interests, as reflected by their applause, and by the
questions that they asked, lay in George Lucas, his Star Wars movies, and the film
industry, rather than in Rep. Pelosi and the policy debates over of incenting innovation.
Lucas, and other ILM people, spoke about film making and special effects.
Lucas also spoke at length about the importance of secondary and university
education for innovation, including the need for more government funding.
Lucas said that "education needs to be free" and that "we need to
have a free higher education system in this country". He said that "that is
what buys hope. And hope buys us innovation."
ILM is based in the San Francisco area. Rep. Pelosi represents a San
Rep. Pelosi (at right) looked
on, and smiled adoringly.
She spoke about the House Democrats' innovation agenda.
This agenda contains several education related statements. It proposes to
"Educate 100,000 new scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in the next four
years by proposing a new initiative, working with states, businesses, and
universities, to provide scholarships to qualified students who commit to
working in the fields of innovation."
It also proposes to "Place a highly qualified teacher in every math and
science K-12 classroom by offering upfront tuition assistance to talented
undergraduates and by paying competitive salaries to established teachers
working in the fields of math and science; institute a ``call to action´´ to
professional engineers and scientists, including those who have retired, to join
the ranks of our nation’s teachers."
It also proposes to "Make college tuition tax-deductible for students
studying math, science, technology, and engineering."
The Democrats' agenda also includes several research and development items.
It proposes to "Double overall funding for the National Science Foundation,
basic research in the physical sciences across all agencies, and collaborative
research partnerships; restore the basic, long-term research agenda at the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct long-range,
high-risk, and high-reward research."
It proposes to "Create regional Centers of Excellence for basic research that
will attract the best minds and top researchers to develop far-reaching
technological innovations and new industries, and modernize existing federal and
academic research facilities."
It also proposes to "Modernize and permanently extend a globally competitive
R&D tax credit to increase domestic investment, create more U.S. jobs, and allow
companies to pursue long-term projects with the certainty that the credit will
The Democrats' agenda also addresses broadband deployment. After some vague
language about a "national broadband policy", it adds that the Congress should
"Enact a broadband tax credit for telecommunications companies that deploy
broadband in rural and underserved parts of America to ensure that every region
of the country benefits from our innovation investments."
The Democrats' agenda also proposes to "Reward risk-taking and
entrepreneurship by promoting broad-based stock options for rank-and-file
employees." It also proposes ending the practice of diverting
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
user fees to subsidize other government programs.
Also, Rep. Pelosi sent a
letter to President Bush dated February 9, 2006. She wrote that "Many of the
ideas you expressed in the State of the Union address are similar to the proposals in
our Innovation Agenda. It is critical to move beyond words and speeches with a real
financial investment in innovation, and we must do it now."
"I am writing to request a bipartisan meeting of Congressional leaders to
discuss how we can advance these vital issues", wrote Rep. Pelosi.
Free Trade v. Protectionism. One youthful film buff asked Lucas about
filming in Australia. Lucas responded that he went there because of high quality and low
costs, particularly in the labor market. He then launched into a discourse on
globalization. He said that he operates internationally, that companies can and
should use workers from any nation, and that governments should not erect
Rep. Pelosi stopped smiling.
Lucas said that "when it comes to shooting a film, I go wherever I can get it
done with the highest quality at the lowest price. That is Economics 101." He
said that "We found that the most competitive place in the world was Australia.
So, we moved our operation to Australia."
He continued that "You live in an international community. The President is
kind of talking about, you know, we have to be really careful about
isolationism. You know, isolationism, just as everything else in this world, is
economic. You cannot think outside the box. But, the world is out there, and
unless you realize that it is a very big world. And, you can't really protect
unfairly your particular position at the expense of somebody else's. You have to
open everything up and compete with everybody everywhere. This is what we have
been forced to do. And in the end everybody benefits from that. If you take away
the cushy little protections that you have, you end up with a very different
marketplace, but a much more stable market place, and a much fairer
The Democrats written agenda does contain one policy proposal related to
global labor markets. It recommends that the U.S. "create a special visa for the
best and brightest international doctoral and post-doctoral scholars in science,
technology, engineering and mathematics."
Comparison of Bush's and Democrats' Innovation Plans. The President's
agenda and the House Democrats' agenda contain many similarities, both in what
they include, and in what they omit.
Both propose to make the R&D tax credit permanent. The Congress has long been
enacting legislation that temporarily extends the R&D tax credit, but which does not
make it permanent. There are bills in every Congress to permanently extend this tax credit.
There is some smoke and mirrors in this process. Since the Congress has extended the
R&D tax credit so many times, companies have come to expect the credit to be continued, and
plan accordingly. However, administration and Congressional budget staff, in making revenue
projections, can operate under the fiction that tax revenues will increase when
the credit expires.
Both the President and the Democrats propose to increase federal funding for
research. And both focus on education in math, science and technology.
There are many other policy debates on Capitol Hill, and in federal agencies,
that the participants assert are essential to promoting innovation, yet which
the House Democrats' and the Presidents' agenda largely ignore. There are a host
of copyright law issues, and many patent law issues, that neither the House
Democrats nor the President address.
The House Democrats' written agenda contains one vague reference reference to
intellectual property law. It proposes to "Protect the intellectual property of
American innovators worldwide, strengthen the patent system".
George Lucas compared the President's and the House Democrats'
innovation agendas. He said that President Bush "said the same things these guys
said." He recommended that "They should get together and work things out."
He added that both the President and the House Democrats have identified
innovation as an issue to be addressed, and that they only differ a little on
the timing. Republicans view this with a "long term" perspective, while
Democrats see this as "short term". Otherwise, he said that "They seem to be
saying the same thing."
TLJ asked Rep. Pelosi after the February 14 event what is the main difference between
the President's innovation agenda and the House Democrats' innovation agenda.
She responded, "Well, the investments. In other words, the President talked
about investing in the National Science Foundation over ten years. It has to be
five, or within five. You can't have innovation unless you fund, invest in
education K through 12. K through 12. You cannot have innovation if you are adding
to the cost of student loans. So, the investment in education, the investment in
research and development, the real investment in energy independence, because
the technology is there for it. These all have a high return to our budget. Our
Democratic proposal is pay as you go, no deficit spending, and we believe these
priorities will prevail in any budget debate. So, the main difference, well, we
have more a aggressive program, initiative. The main difference is is the level
of investment that Democrats are willing to make to make this happen in a short
period of time. And again, with staying number one, timing is everything. Ask
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|House Commerce Committee Seeks Information
from Phone Data Brokers
2/15. The House Commerce Committee
to thirteen operators of data broker web sites that offer to sell customers'
confidential phone records. The letters, which are in the nature of written
interrogatories, request detailed information from the recipients of the letters
about their business operations.
For example, the letters ask the data brokers for a description of methods
used to acquire personal cell phone records, including whether the data brokers
"pose as customers seeking information about their own accounts (``pretexting´´)
to obtain the data being purchased", or "obtain access to cell phone company
databases through computer hacking, impersonation of phone company employees or
government agents, or other unauthorized and fraudulent means".
The letter also asks which businesses provide the data brokers with
information. And, it asks the data brokers to name their top twenty customers,
by annual revenue, for every year since 2000.
The letters were signed by Rep. Joe
Barton (R-TX), Rep. John Dingell (D-MI),
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), and
Bart Stupak (D-MI). They are the Chairman and ranking Democrats of the full
Committee, and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
|FCC Fines Behringer USA for Making
Unauthorized Digital Audio Devices
2/15. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to
Behringer USA, Inc. that proposes to fine
the company $1 Million for making and marketing unauthorized radio frequency devices.
The NALF states that Behringer USA "marketed 50 models of unauthorized radio
frequency devices specifically, digital audio music devices, in apparent willful and
repeated violation" of 47 U.S.C. § 302 and the FCC's implementing regulations.
The NALF does not allege that any of these devices ever actually interfered with any
radio services. Rather, the NALF states that Behringer USA failed to test and certify
that each of its devices did not cause interference.
The FCC stated in a
[PDF] that the size of the fine is a result of circumstances that Behringer USA
"marketed the unauthorized devices for more than five years overall and for almost
a year after it was on notice of the FCC's investigation".
This NAL is FCC 06-13.
|Washington Tech Calendar
New items are highlighted in red.
|Friday, February 17
The House will not meet. Its next scheduled meeting is on February 20.
The Senate will meet at 10:00 PM. The Senate will hold the annual reading
of George Washington's
address of 1796.
|Monday, February 20
George Washington's birthday.
The House will meet at 2:00 PM.
The House will not meet on Monday, February 20, through Friday, February 24. See,
The Senate will not meet on Monday, February 20, through Friday, February 24. See,
2006 Senate calendar.
The Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) and other federal offices will be closed. See, Office of Personnel Management's
(OPM) list of federal holidays.
12:00 NOON UTC. Deadline to submit comments to the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
(ICANN) regarding the proposed
agreements that would settle litigation between
VeriSign and the ICANN. See, story titled "ICANN
Seeks Comments on Settlement of Litigation with VeriSign" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert
No. 1,300, January 31, 2006.
|Tuesday, February 21
12:15 PM. The Federal Communications
Bar Association's (FCBA) Mass Media Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch
titled "Broadcasters Delve Into the Digital Future". The speakers will be
Chessen (Sheppard Mullin), David Fleming (General Counsel of Gannett
Broadcasting), Albert Shuldiner (General Counsel of iBiquity), Steve Smith
(Broadcast Technology Consultants, Inc.), and Mike Starling (NPR). For more
information, contact Eva Dia at edia at sheppardmullin dot com. Location:
Sheppard Mullin, 1300 I Street, 11th floor.
|Wednesday, February 22
12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The
Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA)
International Telecommunications Committee will host a brown bag lunch. The topic will
be the FCC's International Bureau's (IB)
accomplishments in 2005 and goals for 2006. The speaker will be Don Abelson, Chief of
the IB. For more information, contact Ann Henson at ann at fcba dot org. Location:
Skadden Arps, 11th floor, 700 14th St., NW.
12:00 NOON. The
Federal Communications Bar Association's (FCBA)
Wireless Committee will host a lunch. The topic will be "Impact of the U.S.
Wireless Industry on the U.S. Economy". The speaker will be Roger Entner
(Ovum). The price to attend is $15. Registrations and cancellations are due by
12:00 NOON on February 17. See,
form [PDF]. Location: Sidley Austin, 1500 K Street, 6th Floor.
2:00 - 4:00 PM. The Department of State's
Advisory Committee (ITAC) will hold the seventh in a series of weekly meetings to
prepare for the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU)
2006 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference,
to be held November 6-24, 2006, in Antalya, Turkey. See,
notice in the Federal Register, December 21, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 244, at Page 75854.
This notice incorrectly states that these meetings will be held on Tuesdays; they are
on Wednesdays. For more information, contact Julian Minard at 202 647-2593 or minardje
at state dot gov. Location: AT&T, 1120 20th St., NW.
|Thursday, February 23
8:00 AM - 2:00 PM. The Board of Directors of the
National Cable & Telecommunications Association
(NCTA) will meet. For more information, contact: Barbara York or Kawania
Wooten at 202 775-3669. Location: St. Regis Hotel.
Deadline to submit reply comments to the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its notice of
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the rules for expanding the scope of the
Emergency Alert System (EAS) to cover certain digital services. The FCC
adopted a report and order (R&O) and further NPRM on November 3, 2005. The R&O
expanded the categories of service providers that are subject to the FCC's EAS
mandates to include providers of digital broadcast and cable TV, digital audio
broadcasting, satellite radio, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services.
The NPRM asks for comments how the FCC should plan this "next-generation alert
and warning system". See, story titled "FCC Requires DBS, Satellite Radio,
Digital Broadcasters, and Others to Carry AES Communications" in TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 1,247, November 4, 2005. The R&O and NPRM is FCC 05-191 in EB
Docket No. 04-296. It was released on November 10, 2005. See,
notice in the November 25, 2005, Vol. 70, No. 226, at Pages 71072 - 71077.
|Friday, February 24
11:45 AM - 2:00 PM. The
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a
program titled "The Google Copyright Controversy: Implications of Digitizing
the World's Libraries". The speakers will be Robert Hahn (AEI-Brookings Joint
Center), Douglas Lichtman
(University of Chicago), and Hal Varian
(University of California at Berkeley). See,
notice. Location: AEI, 12th floor, 1150 17th St., NW.
|Monday, February 27
The House will return from its "Presidents' Day District Work
Period". See, Majority Whip's
The Senate will return from its Presidents' Day recess. See,
2006 Senate calendar.
|Commentary: National Medal of Technology
2/15. The National Medal of Technology (NMT) program was instituted by the
Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980. This was Public Law No. 96-180. It is
now codified, along with amendments, at
15 U.S.C. § 3711. Persons involved in this NMT program variously state that
its purpose is to incent innovation, reward innovators, and incent young people
to study topics, such as math, sciences, and engineering, that will enable them
to become innovators, or to contribute to the innovative process by becoming
teachers or employees at technology related companies.
The subject of this article is the attributes of the NMT program that relate to the
question of whether this program, as provided for by the statute, and as implemented by
Presidents, is well tailored for incenting creative and innovative accomplishment.
In particular, the article addresses the practice of awarding NMTs to
corporations, the disproportionate number of awards given to a few companies and
their employees, the award of NMTs to companies that have inhibited innovation,
the exclusion of foreign citizens, the use of background checks, and the
influence of political campaign contributions.
Statute. The statute provides that "There is hereby established a National
Technology Medal, which shall be of such design and materials and bear such inscriptions as
the President, on the basis of recommendations submitted by the Office of Science and
Technology Policy, may prescribe." The OSTP, which is a part of the Executive Office
of the President (OEP), is headed by John
It further provides that "The President shall periodically award the medal,
on the basis of recommendations received from the Secretary or on the basis of
such other information and evidence as he deems appropriate, to individuals or
companies, which in his judgment are deserving of special recognition by reason
of their outstanding contributions to the promotion of technology or
technological manpower for the improvement of the economic, environmental, or
social well-being of the United States."
Implementation of Program. The selection process for the NMT, which is
addressed in the Department of Commerce's (DOC) Technology Administration's (TA)
web section on the NMT, includes a
request for nominations from the public, which is published in the Federal
Register. Recommendations are considered by the National Medal of Technology
Evaluation Committee, the members of which are selected by the President for
three year terms. However, the decision as to winners is made by the President.
TLJ spoke after the February 13 event with a DOC employee who stated that the
NMT selection process is non-political and objective.
The first NMTs were awarded for the year 1985. The NMTs awarded at the
February 13 ceremony were for the year 2004. In these 20 years, 129 have been
awarded. (Some NMTs have been awarded to two or more individuals who
collaborated on a single project. For the purposes of this article, these
collaborative awards are counted as a single NMT.)
About 46 NMTs (about 36%) have been awarded for innovation in information and
communications technology (ICT). These include innovations in communications,
satellite, wireless, fiber-optic, computing, software programs, software
languages, semiconductors, displays, and networking technologies.
IBM, or its employees, have been awarded the most NMTs -- 8. AT&T (including
AT&T Bell Labs, and employees) is second with 6. Intel, Motorola and DEC (and
their employees) each have 2. Although, one DEC winner was Grace Hopper, who won
the award for work previously done in the service of the U.S. Navy.
That is, measured by NMT awards, IBM and AT&T account for over 30% of all
innovation in ICT fields.
In contrast, Adobe, Amazon, AMD, AOL, Autodesk, Borland, Cisco, Compaq, Dell,
eBay, Entrust, Google, HP, McAfee, Nokia, Novell, Oracle, Palm, Rambus, RIM, RSA
Security, SAP, Skype, Sun Microsystems, Sybase, Sony, Symantec, Texas
Instruments, Toshiba, Vonage, Yahoo, and many other tech companies, and their
employees, have never won a NMT. Some of these companies, and many of their
employees, are ineligible based upon citizenship. (Also, one Google employee,
Vint Cerf, has won the NMT, but it was while in the employ of MCI, and for work
done much earlier in developing internet protocols.)
Corporate Awards. The statute provides that the NMT may be awarded to
"individuals or companies". One statistically observable trend over the twenty
years of the NMT program is a shift from awarding the medals to people who invent and
innovate, to rewarding large corporations.
During the first five years (1985-1989), only one of 30 medals was awarded to
a corporation. This is 3.3%. During the second five years (1990-1994), 4
out of 45 medals were awarded to corporations. This is 8.9%. During the third
five years (1995-1999), 5 out of 26 medals were awarded to corporations. This is
19.2%. During the most recent five year period (2000-2004), 10 out of 28 medals
were awarded to corporations. This is 35.7%.
However, one OSTP employee told TLJ after the White House event that "there is
no intended trendline".
President Bush stated at the February 13 ceremony that "we want young kids to
think math and science -- math and science are cool subjects, that it's okay to be a
mathematician, that it's exciting to be a scientist." He invited a high school group
to attend the ceremony. Similarly, Rep. Pelosi invited a large number of young House
staffers and interns to her event. She and the other participants spoke of the need to
educate and incent young people to become innovators.
President Bush did not explain why giving medals to corporate CEOs and EVPs, as
opposed to the people who innovate, will incent young people to pursue lives of
innovation or creation.
Many ICT Awards to Two Companies. 30% of the ICT related medals have gone to just two companies,
and their employees -- IBM and AT&T. In contrast, many other innovative
companies, and their employees, have never been given the NMT.
There is no doubt that IBM and AT&T have contributed to ICT innovation.
Whether IBM and AT&T have produced 30% of the innovation in ICT is a question
best left to the judgment of the readers of this article.
Awards to Companies that Have Inhibited Innovation. The NMT program has a
history of giving medals to companies (and their employees) when the companies also have
a history of attempting to retard innovation, particularly in ICT.
For example, three companies that have been awarded the NMT by the President
have also been sued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for anticompetive conduct,
including inhibiting innovation -- IBM, AT&T and Microsoft.
These companies have contributed to ICT innovation. And some of the
government's antitrust actions may have been of questionable merit, but the fact
remains that while one arm of the executive branch has sued companies for
anticompetitive behavior and retarding innovation, another arm of the executive
branch has been giving medals to them for advancing innovation.
As another example, some companies use regulatory processes to inhibit
deployment of new and innovative technologies. Former FCC Commissioner Harold
Furchtgott-Roth wrote in his
just published book,
A Tough Act to Follow: The Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the Separation of
Powers [Amazon], that FCC regulation and licensing retards the
deployment of new technologies that use spectrum or otherwise require FCC
licenses or approvals.
He wrote that "The first application for FM radio service was submitted in
1934. Although the service was soon introduced, decades of regulatory interference
limited its further development. It took a full generation for FM to develop into the
pervasive and flourishing format it is today. The first cable television systems were
developed in the early 1950s. For the next thirty years, the FCC succeeded in retarding
the development of cable television by putting restrictions on the programming cable
operators could offer their customers. The first cellular telephone application was in the
1950s; the first licenses were delayed until the 1980s. The first applications for
ultrawideband technologies for spectrum languished for more than a decade."
The FCC does not act in a vacuum. It responds to pressures placed on it by
incumbent companies, and by legislators and executive branch officials, who in
turn are often influenced by incumbent companies.
One company that has been particularly skilled over the decades in competing
through regulatory processes is AT&T. And, it is one of the companies that has
been most rewarded by the NMT program.
Exclusion of Foreign Citizens. One of the selection criteria for the NMT is
being a U.S. citizen or company. This requirement is not found in the statute. The statute
merely provides that the award is for "improvement of the economic, environmental, or
social well-being of the United States". President Bush stated in his February
13 speech that government policy should be "making sure that we've got the
future scientists and mathematicians living right here in the United States of
President Bush did not explain why persons who have improved the economic and
social well being of the U.S., and are persons "living right here" in the U.S.,
should be disqualified from receiving the NMT. Nor did he discuss how this
restriction incents innovative people to come to the U.S. to study, work, or
start businesses. Nor did he discuss how this restriction incents foreign
citizens graduating from U.S. universities with degrees in math, science and
technology to remain in the U.S.
Background Checks. A DOC employee
who spoke with reporters before the February 13 White House event stated that
the selection process for NMTs includes a government background check.
Throughout history many of the most creative and innovative people have had
problems with government background checks. Many creative and innovative people
have been burned at the stake, beheaded, or otherwise executed. Others have been
imprisoned, exiled, prosecuted, persecuted or censored. Sometimes this
governmental reaction arises out of the very nature of creative and innovative
activity; it disrupts existing orders, business operations, and ways of
thinking. Also, many creative and innovative people are by nature rebellious and
defiant. And, many have been religious, ethnic, or political outsiders. Finally,
many have personal weaknesses unrelated to their creative activities. The
consequence of these factors is that historically creative and innovative people
have not fared well in government background checks.
As recently as the 1950s, the U.S. government was involved in limiting and damaging
the careers and activities of scientists, writers, and film makers when background checks
produced evidence of their actual, or imagined, un-American activities.
The award of a NMT confers no power, privilege, office, or access to
information upon the awardee. The statute does not require government background
checks. The DOC web site does not articulate the basis for this selection criteria.
Campaign Contributions. Finally, there is the matter of the
relationship between political campaign contributions and the award of NMTs.
Motorola received a NMT for the second time on February 13. FEC records show
that there is a Motorola political action committee that makes substantial
contributions to federal candidates. Moreover, it give more to Republicans than to Democrats.
Gen-Probe also received a NMT. Henry Nordhoff, its Ch/P/CEO, was present to
receive the medal. FEC records show that Nordhoff gave to Bush-Cheney 2004 and
other Republican candidates.
Finally, there is the award to PACCAR. Its CEO, Mark Pigott, stood on the stage
with President Bush to receive the medal on behalf of his company.
FEC records show that he gave $25,000 to the Republican National Senatorial
Committee (RNSC) and another $25,000 to the Republican National Committee last
August. He gave $15,000 to the RNSC in February of 2004. He gave $25,000 to the
2004 Joint State Victory Committee.
He gave more to committees. He gave to Bush Cheney. He gave to individual candidates.
His family gave. The Pigott family contributions to Republicans in recent years are too
numerous to be described in this article.
PACCAR was given the NMT for "development and commercialization of aerodynamic,
lightweight trucks". Other companies have incorporated new and lighter materials,
and aerodynamic and hydrodynamic designs, into their transportations products, including
trucks, aircraft, cars, bicycles, and boats. None of these other companies received
a NMT at this ceremony.
PACCAR is just one of hundreds of companies that has participated in generic industry
trends. It has not distinguished itself from the many other companies on the basis of its
contributions to technological innovation.
Giving PACCAR a NMT creates the appearance that PACCAR has distinguished itself by
developing more efficient and aerodynamic methods for transporting bulk cash into the
accounts of Republican candidates and organizations.
And, this appearance is counterproductive to the underlying purposes of the NMT program.
Former President Clinton also gave some NMTs to politically active persons. Ron Brown,
who was his Secretary of Commerce, was highly innovative in generating campaign
contribution for Clinton-Gore and Democrats. He received a NMT following his death while
in government service. Also, Clinton gave NMTs to three persons who gave money to
Republicans, including Norman Augustine (1997), Ray Dolby (1997), and Dean Kamen (2000).