May 5, 2009

Using Technology to Promote Government Transparency and Citizen Engagement

In my November 8, 2008 entry, "Obama: A Tech President?" I wrote about President Obama's plan to promote government transparency by using online social networking and electronic media channels. In his weekly address made on April 25, 2009, Mr. Obama said, "To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative." The White House's official blog said the Obama administration moved several steps forward by creating a presence on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube, iTunes, and blogs available through I commend the Obama administration for using available technological tools to create an opportunity for American citizens to have their voices heard.

The White House Blog explains, "Technology has profoundly impacted how – and where – we all consume information and communicate with one another. is an important part of the Administration's effort to use the internet to reach the public quickly and effectively – but it isn't the only place. There's a lot to talk about right now. From an economic crisis to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the President and his Administration have a full plate – not the least of which is making sure the public stays up-to-date and involved in our efforts."

Critics argue that electronic media simply increases multiple channels for the President to promote his agenda. While this may be carry some truth, opening the doors to the public will create an unprecedented level of transparency. American citizens from outside of Washington, D.C. should have a voice on how their presidency operates and using technology such as electronic media will help facilitate this process of openness. In addition, utilizing the latest online communication tools will have a direct impact on increasing citizen participation in governmental affairs. After all, it is our government. I highly encourage governments worldwide to adopt a similar strategy of using technology to promote government transparency and citizen engagement.

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