Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

USA: "Defense Secretary William Cohen made a pilgrimage to

2 March 1999. Thanks to D.

A Secretary Goes a Courtin'

By William M. Arkin

Special to

Monday, March 1, 1999

There was a time when research and development contracts for the Defense Department and other federal agencies drove American technology. Now, commercial and educational organizations outspend and outshine the government in almost every way, especially in information technologies.

Once the best and brightest graduates of computer science departments flocked to nuclear and military laboratories to fight the Cold War. Today they go to the Internet and entertainment industries.

Just 15 years ago, the Pentagon purchased 60 percent of the information products produced in the United States. Today, it purchases less than 2 percent. The result is that the military has less influence on what the commercial infotech sector is doing, and many worry that this represents a national security problem.

So, despite the Justice Department's war with Microsoft, Defense Secretary William Cohen made a pilgrimage to Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters in February to get to know the civilian dynamos better and to build support for military spending.