The steady decline of the United States to the #8 position in the NRI this year is an indication of how the country is failing to leverage ICT to drive economic productivity and social development.
Dutta points out: “The worrying factor is that the U.S. has been slipping over the last few years. Leaders in America have to realise that the relative slippage in the rankings could show signs of weakness or cracks in what has been until today, the world’s foremost innovation and technology hub.”
Although the #8 position is a strong performance, says Dutta, it represents a drop of three places from last year’s ranking and a steady decline since 2002 when the U.S. was ranked #1. “This year’s U.S. ranking should be viewed as a warning,” explains Dutta, “which is, in part, a measure of the business community’s perception of government and their political leaders’ ability to cope with the country’s current economic problems.” He advises that “weaknesses in the political and regulatory environment are beginning to hinder the country’s overall performance.” This is borne out by the United States’ #21 ranking in this pillar. Dutta says there are elements of the basic infrastructure that are not as well developed as in other countries and this has to be changed. For example, there is a high burden of tax rates on utilities such as telecommunications in the U.S. and the administrative burden that companies face is particularly problematic.