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Obama Courts Tech Voters

Would "foster an increase in the transparency of government and the re-democratization of governing processes to include all Americans."

Senator Barack Obama has attracted a number of high-tech supporters for his Technology and Innovation plan, and yesterday visited Google in California's Silicon Valley, rolling out his technology agenda and taking questions from employees.

Google CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt said Obama would use the Internet to "increase government transparency," and Lotus Development President Mitch Kapor said Obama's creation of a federal chief technology officer would "foster a much needed increase in the transparency of government and the re-democratization of governing processes to include all Americans."

Gigi Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge said the Technology and Innovation plan "Is by far the most comprehensive roadmap of all the presidential candidates for how digital technology and broadband networks can transform our society."

Obama's proposed federal CTO position would do the following:

  • "To ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st century. The CTO will ensure the safety of our networks and will lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices.
  • The CTO will have a specific focus on transparency, by ensuring that each arm of the federal government makes its records open and accessible as the E-Government Act requires. The CTO will also focus on using new technologies to solicit and receive information back from citizens to improve the functioning of democratic government.
  • The CTO will also ensure technological interoperability of key government functions. For example, the chief technology officer will oversee the development of a national, interoperable wireless network for local, state and federal first responders as the 9/11 commission recommended. This will ensure that fire officials, police officers and EMTs from different jurisdictions have the ability to communicate with each other during a crisis and we do not have a repeat of the failure to deliver critical public services that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina."
According to the technology plan, Obama would also give the American public "an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days before signing any non-emergency legislation."

Wayne E. Hanson served as a writer and editor with e.Republic from 1989 to 2013, having worked for several business units including Government Technology magazine, the Center for Digital Government, Governing, and Digital Communities. Hanson was a juror from 1999 to 2004 with the Stockholm Challenge and Global Junior Challenge competitions in information technology and education.