As an initiative of the Digital Communities' CIO Task Force, local government and IT industry partners have joined together to offer their advice and support to the Obama Administration.

The initiative seeks to expand and clarify thinking about what comprises a sustainable community in the 21st century. "While long associated with environmental issues, Digital Communities members believe sustainability is a more expansive idea that reaches across a community's and region's endeavors," the group writes. "Sustainability means meeting today's needs and provisioning for the future. It is a powerful framework for thinking and acting on a range of challenges facing towns, cities and counties, and it is one that will depend heavily on the appropriate implementation and application of information technology."

In the document submitted to the new Administration, the group argues that the definition of "infrastructure" as it is currently considered in Congress should be expanded to include information and communications technology (ICT): voice, video, data, hardware and software and other services supported by broadband infrastructure (wire line and wireless). They urge that a national broadband infrastructure plan should be developed and implemented consistent with President-elect Obama's promise to "get true broadband to every community in America."

Additionally, Digital Communities members made clear their support for President-elect Obama's plan to appoint a federal Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure that government and its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for this new century. The CTO, they say, in addition to leading federal interagency efforts to improve electronic service delivery and information sharing, should also involve local government and industry in efforts to improve the security of public service and public safety networks and to further develop and implement the infrastructure and policy guidance to move electronic service delivery forward. As part of this, the new federal CTO should work with federal, state and local government, industry and the federal courts to develop uniform standards and guidelines for electronic transactions and reconcile existing nonconforming protocols.

The submission in full follows:

Building Smart and Sustainable Communities

Local Government and Information Technology Industry Partners

Offer Their Advice and Support to the Obama Administration

The Chief Information Officers (CIOs) of 28 of America's largest cities and counties - home to more than 40 million citizens - have joined together with information and communication technology industry representatives in a program called Digital Communities created by the Center for Digital Government and Government Technology magazine. Together, they are working to help communities ensure a healthy and prosperous future by becoming smarter and more sustainable.

While long associated with environmental issues, Digital Communities members believe sustainability is a more expansive idea that reaches across a community's and region's endeavors. Sustainability means meeting today's needs and provisioning for the future. It is a powerful framework for thinking and acting on a range of challenges facing towns, cities and counties, and it is one that will depend heavily on the appropriate implementation and application of information technology.

In September 2008, the National League of Cities (NLC), along with the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the Council of State Governments (CSG), the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), joined to highlight the important roles state and local government leaders play in solving national issues and called on the next president to engage these leaders when determining national policy. Digital Communities members do not seek to duplicate the good work of the major associations but to add their support and perspective as information technology professionals in local government to the work already done. They want to make clear their support for key provisions of the Obama and Biden Science, Technology and Innovation for a New Generation platform.

Digital Communities members have identified the

Blake Harris  |  Contributing Editor