Three takeaways from today’s report on IT industry coronavirus consulting


How does the tech industry contribute to America’s current efforts to battle the coronavirus?

A report at U.S. News & World Report by David Shepardson and Nandita Bose talks about White House officials meeting with U.S. technology industry officials as well as some representative of big private sector firms.

The headline makes it sound like Microsoft delivered teams of skilled developers to the White House. That’s not quite what Shepardson and Bose report, but here, as the White House talks to top people from U.S. companies, are some interesting points about this collaboration between politicians and people skilled in computer science.

  1. What and Who is the U.S. Chief Technology Officer?

Shepardson and Bose report that “U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios discussed the planned release of a new database of full-text coronavirus-related scholarly literature…”

Wait a minute – the United States has a CTO?

Yes – President Barack Obama created the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the role just a few years ago. Kratsios is only the fourth head of this department named by Trump to the position in May 2019.

Classification of Responses

Shepardson and Bose also report that the White House ordered federal health officials to mark coronavirus meetings as classified and suggested that has “restricted information and hampered the US government’s response.”

This bit of information is a particular salvo in the ongoing debate over free flow of information versus national security – when the classification of material is appropriate has been a major inflection point for so many decision-making processes in different areas of public policy – apparently coronavirus response is no different in that regard.

Payroll Relief

At the end of the article, the report suggests that the government is considering payroll tax relief, which would effectively add to the wallets of the American working class.

Temporarily easing payroll tax would mean that we’re taking money out of the Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs in the long run to benefit working people under a certain amount of income in the short term. Opinions can differ on this.

The scenario that we’re in is unusual. Virus news is sending all sorts of markets tanking, including both equity and cryptocurrency markets, and the collaboration between the White House and big tech companies is just one of the unusual outcomes that we will see in the days ahead.