U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's pledge to "renew our information superhighway," and his outline for the economic stimulus package, will likely lead to significant increases in information technology spending, particularly in broadband deployment and health care and education technology. Obama has not released an estimate for the cost of such a plan, but because the overall stimulus package is expected to be hundreds of billions of dollars, there could be significant funding for Internet-related options. Pace University professor James Gabberty says the impact of such spending in technology and productivity is difficult to determine as there is no quantitative figure that defines the return on spending money on hardware, software, or communications. Robert Atkinson, a member of Obama's transition team and head of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), says he believes technology investments will stimulate the economy. Atkinson says Obama's plan will represent the first major stimulus effort since the creation of the digital economy. Broadband expansion will likely be strongly supported by the new administration, and Atkinson says the U.S. could increase PC ownership through a program that subsidizes the cost of computer purchases and Internet access. For less than $1 billion, the U.S. government could help about 1.5 million households obtain access to the Internet, he says. In medicine, Obama wants to ensure that every doctor and hospital is using electronic medical records and the most modern technology available to prevent medical mistakes that cost billions of dollars each year.
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