To determine where opportunities may lie, you’ve first got to identify
which federal or state agencies are likely to be involved in funneling
money to technology initiatives that might involve technology you’re
skilled with, or companies you’re interested in working for.
By Mark Feffer | Dice News Staff
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – popularly known as "the stimulus plan" – is designed to re-employ or retain some 3.5 million people, a large proportion of the Americans who’ve lost work to the current recession. Because so much of media coverage has focused on the plan’s "technology" emphasis, many candidates are trying to determine where and how the plan’s spending could impact them.
With $111 billion allocated to the broadly defined "infrastructure and science" category, it certainly seems IT people will have new opportunities somewhere. But it’s important to understand that not all of the jobs funded in this area will be IT jobs. Both the government and media define "technology" broadly, and consider "technical" positions to be those that do things like build solar energy systems, construct smart electrical grids or lay communications lines. While these tasks will certainly include IT components, those will represent a relatively small portion of the overall efforts.
What technology companies will benefit from the stimulus plan? Those that are proactive. "The IT vendor community must be both aggressive and agile in their strategy to capture this newly addressable market," says research firm IDC. "This once-in-a-lifetime flood of new technology money requires a new way of finding and following opportunities. Due to the aggressive timeline, success will not come from the traditional business development via relationships and RFPs."
Indeed, the timetable on $499 billion in overall spending (the plan’s $787 billion total includes the cost of tax cuts) is quick. Contracts, competitions, grants and cooperative agreements, agency plans and a flow of money from agencies to states is already underway.
What to Consider
To determine where opportunities may lie, you’ve first got to identify which federal or state agencies are likely to be involved in funneling money to technology initiatives that might involve technology you’re skilled with, or companies you’re interested in working for. Bear in mind:
- As mentioned, both the Act’s language and media coverage often consider "technology" to be things far removed from IT. Much of the money earmarked for projects such as data center modernization may go to construction firms as opposed to IT specialists.
- Hardware, software, networking equipment and similar purchases will often be made on the local level, through agencies many small and medium-sized businesses are already familiar with. Many areas have wide flexibility in how they spend their funds. This means IT opportunities aren’t always readily apparent. In education, for example, money from some stimulus programs can be used to maintain teacher salaries, thus avoiding layoffs, or for new computers and other equipment. How the funds are eventually spent is up to the local school board. So: Pay attention to what’s going on in your area. Local companies who are positioned to take advantage of local projects may need more staff to handle additional work.
- In an area like healthcare, companies such as Hewlett-Packard and General Electric are positioning themselves to sell more of the systems they’ve already created, or have in the pipeline. On the ground, local VARs should find business installing and maintaining networked systems in medical practices, most of which are, essentially, small businesses.
- Funds are funneled through the federal government’s departments, each of which is required to maintain a Web site dedicated to its recovery efforts. The sites offer information on funding, actions taken and planned for the near-term. You can find a listing of the sites here.
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