Technology agency's leader resigns, agency to close

Move follows efforts in recent years -- both on Capitol Hill and in the Bush administration -- to eliminate the Technology Administration.

Commerce Department Undersecretary Robert Cresanti has resigned after nearly two years of leading the Technology Administration.

In a letter to colleagues, Cresanti said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve "while pursuing some of my life's great passions -- including nanotechnology, intellectual property, [radio-frequency identification] and my chief privacy officer's duties -- while helping make America the place for technology companies to spawn, grow and thrive."

A government aide who did not wish to be identified said the Technology Administration, which Congress launched in 1980, is closing Sept. 30.

There have been efforts in recent years, both on Capitol Hill and in the Bush administration, to eliminate TA, the only office whose sole job is to advocate for innovation-friendly policies.

In his latest budget request, President Bush proposed to "modernize" TA by dramatically cutting its budget from $6 million to $1.6 million and then essentially eliminating it. Instead, of a standalone Technology Administration, there would be a senior adviser in the Commerce Department's office of policy and strategic planning who would chair a department-wide council to coordinate tech policy activities across the Commerce Department.

That change already seems to be reflected in Cresanti's e-mail, which he signed "senior technology policy adviser," not undersecretary.

The move comes despite some efforts by the former head of the Technology Administration, Information Technology Association of America CEO Phil Bond, and others to save the agency.

Bond was among seven former officials who had the job before Cresanti. They sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this year, asking Congress to reject the president's budget request and keep the agency, which they argued had done much to boost U.S. competitiveness.

"At a time when competitiveness has rocketed to the forefront of the national agenda, TA's mission has never been more important," said the seven former officials who led the agency under both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Neither Cresanti nor a TA official could be reached for comment Thursday.