Robert D. Atkinson

Robert D. Atkinson
President
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

As founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Robert D. Atkinson leads a prolific team of policy analysts and fellows that is successfully shaping the debate and setting the agenda on a host of critical issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy.

He is an internationally recognized scholar and a widely published author whom The New Republic has named one of the “three most important thinkers about innovation,” Washingtonian Magazine has called a “tech titan,” and Government Technology Magazine has judged to be one of the 25 top “doers, dreamers and drivers of information technology.”

A sought-after speaker and valued adviser to policymakers around the world, Atkinson’s books include Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage (Yale, 2012), Supply-Side Follies: Why Conservative Economics Fails, Liberal Economics Falters, and Innovation Economics is the Answer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), and The Past And Future Of America’s Economy: Long Waves Of Innovation That Power Cycles Of Growth (Edward Elgar, 2005). He also has conducted groundbreaking research projects and authored hundreds of articles and reports on technology and innovation-related topics ranging from tax policy to advanced manufacturing, productivity, and global competitiveness.

President Clinton appointed Atkinson to the Commission on Workers, Communities, and Economic Change in the New Economy; the Bush administration appointed him chair of the congressionally created National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission; and the Obama administration appointed him to the National Innovation and Competitiveness Strategy Advisory Board. He now serves as co-chair of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s China-U.S. Innovation Policy Experts Group and as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Atkinson is a member of the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age and serves on the boards or advisory councils of the Internet Education Foundation, the NetChoice Coalition, the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Innovation, and the State Science and Technology Institute. Additionally, Atkinson is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Electronic Government and the Journal of Internet Policy; a member of the Global Innovation Forum Brain Trust; a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; a fellow at the Columbia University Institute of Tele-Information; and a fellow of Glocom, a Tokyo-based research institute.

Atkinson was previously vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute, where he directed the Technology & New Economy Project. He wrote numerous research reports on technology and innovation policy, covering issues such as broadband telecommunications, e-commerce, e-government, privacy, copyright, R&D tax policy, offshoring, and innovation economics.

Previously, Atkinson served as the first executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council (RIEPC), a public-private partnership whose members included the state’s governor, legislative leaders, and both corporate and labor leaders. As head of RIEPC, Atkinson was responsible for drafting a comprehensive economic development strategy for the state and working with the legislature and executive branch of government to successfully implement each element of a 10-point action agenda.

Prior to his service in Rhode Island, Atkinson was a project director at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, where, among other projects, he spearheaded The Technological Reshaping of Metropolitan America, a seminal report examining the impact of the information technology revolution on America’s urban areas.

As a respected policy expert and commentator, Atkinson has testified numerous times before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and he appears frequently on news and public affairs programs. Among others, these appearances have included interviews on BBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, and NBC Nightly News.

Atkinson holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he was awarded the prestigious Joseph E. Pogue Fellowship. He earned his master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Oregon, which named him a distinguished alumnus in 2014.

Recent Events

May 20, 2016

Please join ITIF to discuss a new report exploring why building out digital and hybrid infrastructure is critical to seizing the next wave of economic opportunities, creating jobs, and improving people’s quality of life.

May 19, 2016

Please join ITIF for an expert panel discussion on how specialized tax incentives for innovative products and services could make the U.S. economy more competitive.

May 17, 2016

Please join ITIF and the bipartisan Senate Competitiveness Caucus to discuss how public policies can support America’s universities as they work to train America’s future manufacturing workforce of tomorrow.

May 9, 2016

No one disputes that digital trade is an essential component of the 21st century economy, however, so it is critical to establish a clearer definition of just what constitutes unwarranted protectionism and under what circumstances governments are justified in limiting cross-border data flows. Please join ITIF for a debate between ITIF President Rob Atkinson and George Washington University Professor Susan Aaronson.

May 5, 2016

Please join ITIF for the release of a comprehensive report on productivity: why it has lagged and what it’s likely to do over the next two decades, why higher productivity won’t kill jobs, why conventional policy solutions are likely to be inadequate, and what governments should do to restore robust productivity growth.

Recent Publications

May 16, 2016

Transforming traditional “bricks and mortar” infrastructures into “hybrid” digital infrastructures will unlock new economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve quality of life.

May 10, 2016

As long as clean energy costs more than dirty energy, most countries will simply set less ambitious goals, or change or ignore them, writes Rob Atkinson in Innovation: The Journal of Technology Commercialization.

May 4, 2016

Productivity is the key to improving living standards—so policymakers should ignore conventional economists who say there is little government can do about it and instead make it the principal goal of economic policy.

April 28, 2016

High-performance computing is a strategic resource for economic competitiveness, scientific leadership, and national security. To remain a leader in the field, the United States must commit to sustaining a robust ecosystem for the technology.

April 25, 2016

By pushing for a financial data carve-out in the TPP, the United States has undermined its own interests and sent a dangerous message that may encourage countries to enact more protectionist data policies.

April 14, 2016

As the global Internet economy evolves and becomes more interconnected, cross-border policy tensions are rising, as is the need to resolve these tensions and conflicts in ways that continue to spur growth and innovation writes Rob Atkinson in Innovation Files.

Recent Presentations

October 13, 2015

Rob Atkinson presented at Engaged Citizens: Digital Government Showcase & Discussion that took place in Salt Lake City, Utah as a part of the 2015 NASCIO Annual Conference.

May 7, 2015

Rob Atkinson presented at the Arizona Association for Economic Development 2015 Spring Conference.

March 26, 2015

Rob Atkinson will present at "Privacy & Innovation in the Age of the Internet of Things" at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center.

January 26, 2015

Rob Atkinson and Stephen Ezell presented the Indian Economy at a Crossroads report in New Delhi.

November 13, 2014

Rob Atkinson discussed the impact of ICT growth at the "Building Blocks of the Ubiquitous Digital Single Market" event.

October 30, 2014

Rob Atkinson presented on "How the Cloud Can Drive Economic Growth" to Canada’s Digital Policy Forum.

Testimonials

Rob Atkinson, “has a unique and enviable capacity to communicate cutting-edge analysis of emerging and effective economic development practices.  In that, he made high level concepts very accessible and relevant to those in the front line of growing jobs and the economy.  We consider ourselves to be very fortunate you were able to share your voice, vision, wisdom, and experience with our regional leaders.”

- Jim Prosser Executive Director, Centralina Council of Governments 

Dr. Robert D. Atkinson was an excellent addition as an international keynote speaker at the Innovation Day, hosted by the Portuguese Industrial Association (AIP) in Lisbon. Dr. Atkinson’s presentation on lessons from the U.S. innovation system was insightful and engaging. His encouraging perspective on innovation and its potential role in the Portugal context during a moderated discussion was thought provoking for the audience. Dr. Atkinson is an excellent speaker and a pleasure to collaborate with.

- Augusto Medina President, Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovacao S.A.