Five Tech Companies That Milked The Stimulus


Microsoft was awarded $8.78 million in ARRA funds from 46 awards, including a $1.1 million project related to a University of Washington health-care IT project that funded 17.44 jobs in the most recent quarter. The Microsoft spokesman noted that, of course, Microsoft "benefited from ARRA, but only because third parties like the University of Washington applied for funding for projects that included IT. Given our large product portfolio and footprint in the IT industry, there's a pretty good chance that any IT project will include some Microsoft software."

Microsoft has spent $24.75 million on lobbying expenditures so far during the Obama administration, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In addition, the company filed 16 lobbying reports related to the stimulus bill in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Those lobbying reports cite, among other things, protection of critical infrastructure and cybersecurity, health IT issues, passage of free trade agreements, and R&D tax credit. A Microsoft spokesman said in an email the "wide range of potential issues in economic stimulus legislation was one of the issues that Microsoft was watching in 2009. As I stated before, we did not lobby Congress or the White House for earmarks under ARRA."

Microsoft employees have been big contributors to Obama, with employees and their families contributing $544,445 to President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, the No. 2 overall company or university contributor in the form of employee contributions to the 2012 Obama campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Microsoft employees have contributed $107,840 to the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. During the Obama administration, Ballmer is listed on the White House visitor's log in 19 entries, including June 3, 2009, and Jan. 14, 2010, meetings with the former Assistant to the President For Economic Policy Lawrence Summers. In addition, Ballmer was the guest of the White House for a China state dinner on Jan. 19, 2011. The Microsoft spokesman pointed out that the company’s review of the White House visitor's log shows 17 visits over seven dates with all of those visits taking place after the ARRA legislation was passed.

Microsoft's U.S. employee population has declined by 1,000 during the Obama years. In 2008, Microsoft said it employed 55,000 people in the U.S. At the end of 2011, the latest data available, the company employed 54,000 people in the U.S.

One footnote: the Microsoft unit that received at least $1.1 million in health-care IT funding related to the University of Washington project is now part of a 50-50 joint venture Microsoft has formed with another stimulus beneficiary: General Electric. The new GE-Microsoft joint venture, called Caradigm, is aimed at providing realtime business intelligence to improve "health-care quality and the patient experience."

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