Robert D. Atkinson is the founder and President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington, DC-based technology policy think tank. He is also author of the State New Economy Index series and the book The Past And Future Of America’s Economy: Long Waves Of Innovation That Power Cycles Of Growth (Edward Elgar, 2005). He has an extensive background in technology policy, has conducted ground-breaking research projects on technology and innovation, is a valued adviser to state and national policy makers, and a popular speaker on innovation policy both nationally and internationally.
Before ITIF, Atkinson was Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and Director of PPI’s Technology & New Economy Project. While at PPI, he wrote numerous research reports on technology and innovation policy, including on issues such as broadband telecommunications, e-commerce and e-government, privacy, copyright, the R&D tax credit, offshoring, and innovation economics.
Previously, Atkinson served as the first Executive Director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council (RIEPC), a public-private partnership that included members such as the Governor of Rhode Island, legislative leaders, and corporate and labor leaders. As head of RIEPC, he was responsible for drafting a comprehensive economic strategic development plan for the state, developing a ten-point economic development plan, and working to successfully implement all ten proposals through the legislative and administrative branches. Prior to that, he was Project Director at the former Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). While at OTA, he directed The Technological Reshaping of Metropolitan America, a seminal report examining the impact of the information technology revolution on America’s urban areas.
Atkinson has been a member of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age since its inception in 2002. He also serves on the boards or advisory boards of the Internet Education Foundation, NetChoice Coalition, the University of Oregon Institute for Policy Research and Innovation, the State Science and Technology Institute, and the Reason Foundation’s Project Advisory Board. He was appointed Chair of the Congressionally-created National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, Americans for Computer Privacy. He is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Electronic Government and the Journal of Internet Policy. He is a member of the Global Innovation Forum Brain Trust, and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Atkinson was appointed by President Clinton to the Commission on Workers, Communities, and Economic Change in the New Economy.
In 1999, Atkinson was featured in Who’s Who in America: Finance and Industry. In 2002, he was awarded the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award Silver Medal. Government Technology Magazine and the Center for Digital Government named him one of the 25 top Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of Information Technology. In 2006, Inc. magazine listed Atkinson as one of 19 Friends of Small Business in Washington. Ars Technica listed Atkinson as one of 2009’s tech policy People to Watch.
Atkinson has testified before a number of committees in Congress and has appeared in various media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, and NBC Nightly News. He received his PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1989, where he was awarded the distinguished Joseph E. Pogue Fellowship.
Atkinson has been a Member of the Markle Task Force since its inception in 2002.