Speaking in Brazil at the inaugural high-level meetings of the 55-country Open Government Partnership, Clinton said that technology is one of the keys to open government and to increasing citizens' engagement with their leaders.
"We now have tools that previous generations couldn't even dream about," she said. "Technology makes it practical and useful to do things that previously were prohibitively expensive, and makes it easier for citizens to connect with one another and their leaders."
The Obama administration helped create the multi-national Open Government Partnership late last summer. The nations that joined have made numerous commitments toward openness, many of them focusing on using IT to facilitate open data and open dialogue.
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For example, Chile, Estonia, Israel, and others are all creating open public data websites to make various types of information, including crime and budget statistics, available online. Bulgaria, Croatia, and Tunisia are creating budgets that will explain to citizens in plain language how money is spent in those countries. And the Slovak Republic and Montenegro are following the White House in creating a site for e-petitions.
Clinton noted that the Open Government Partnership will have to hold itself accountable in order to be successful at encouraging openness. "We have to deliver on the commitments that we have made," she said. To that point, she said that the partnership would have public report cards to indicate if member governments were living up to their promises or not.
In her remarks, Clinton didn't speak much about new American commitments under the umbrella of the Open Government Partnership. However, she did mention plans to issue guidance Tuesday instructing embassies to modernize their IT infrastructures. She also noted that the United States had recently announced its intention to join two other transparency efforts, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
While Clinton touted new technological developments and plans for open government, she also warned that technology is not a panacea. "Technology isn't some kind of magic wand," she said. "Ultimately, it is political will that determines how we hold ourselves accountable. The new tools of the digital age will not change our nature: only we can do that."
As federal agencies embrace devices and apps to meet employee demand, the White House seeks one comprehensive mobile strategy. Also in the new Going Mobile issue of InformationWeek Government: Find out how the National Security Agency is developing technologies to make commercial devices suitable for intelligence work. (Free registration required.)