Can Anyone in the Obama Administration Spell 'RFID'?
The president called for Congress to authorize $1 billion for ill-defined support for manufacturing, while ignoring the RFID revolution in its backyard.
I can sum up the Obama administration's support for RFID in a single word: "nonexistent." European governments and the European Union have funded and continue to fund numerous projects—from the United Kingdom's 2000 Chipping of Goods Initiative (see Case Study: The Value of Visibility) to the EU's current RACE networkRFID initiative. Governments in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea have also supported RFID projects in an effort to give companies an edge in the global market, while those in Australia, Brazil and Canada believe that monitoring cattle with RFID technology can help grow their economies.
Even if you are skeptical of government involvement in the economy, the government could help develop the industry (to the benefit of all companies that will use the technology) by embracing it for the money it can save taxpayers.
Rather than allocate $1 billion for manufacturing institutes with ill-defined goals, the Obama administration could provide $100 million in funding for RFID projects that will save the government at least $1 billion over a span of 10 years. The VA and the DOD are two government entities that have embraced RFID as a means to becoming more efficient and saving taxpayers money over time. And there are many other agencies that could benefit from the use of RFID technology as well. The General Services Administration, for instance, procures roughly $70 billion worth of goods for other federal agencies. Managing that much stuff cannot be carried out effectively without RFID.
The federal government could create a joint task force to share best practices and promote the intelligent use of RFID and other technologies to cut costs. Learnings from one project could no doubt be applied elsewhere within the government. An interagency committee was set up to examine ways in which RFID could be used throughout the government, but it has no mandate and everyone on the committee has another job. The task force should be staffed with retired businesspeople like Jack Welch (General Electric's former CEO and the founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute), who can apply new technologies and proven business practices to make the government more efficient.
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