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Obama's tech vision: Blogs and wikis for the feds

If elected president, the Illinois Democrat plans to carry out a sweeping technology agenda that, among other things, is designed to boost government transparency through techie means.

Just in time for a Wednesday visit to the Googleplex and other Silicon Valley outposts, Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama plans to take the wraps off his technology platform.

Obama's agenda (PDF), which numbers nine pages, isn't limited to the usual talking points, although they're in there, too: enacting Net neutrality rules, speeding next-generation broadband deployment to all corners of the nation, improving math and science education, beefing up federal research spending, letting in more foreign tech workers, and making the research and development tax credit permanent.

Barack Obama U.S. Senate

His plan also includes a number of technology-laced provisions aimed at making government more transparent--with the goal of counteracting what he calls "one of the most secretive, closed administrations in American history" under President Bush.

To do that, he would appoint a "chief technology officer" charged not only with making sure all federal agencies' computer systems are up to date, but also with making sure government agencies make their electronic records as open and transparent as federal law requires. The CTO would also oversee construction of a nationwide wireless network for use by public safety responders, as recommended by the 9/11 Commission.

Webcasts of congressional proceedings are already abundant, but Obama proposes providing live Internet feeds of executive branch meetings as often as possible as well. He also wants to make government data available in universally accessible formats, allow the public to comment on nonemergency legislation at the White House Web site for five days before it's signed, and enlist blogs, wikis and social-networking tools in an effort to promote communication among government employees, both internally and across agencies.

The San Jose Mercury News first reported on the agenda early Wednesday morning.

Obama's plan may sweep in a broader set of issues than some of his rivals, but his isn't the first high-tech platform to emerge from a presidential candidate.

Arguably his biggest rival, Hillary Clinton, released a the text of her plan about a month ago. Her "innovation agenda" overlaps in may ways with a Democratic congressional plan of the same name

Among Clinton's ideas are offering tax incentives to providing broadband in underserved areas as part of a platform called "Connect America," doubling the budget for research at federal science and tech agencies, making --much beloved by Silicon Valley shops--permanent, and creating a $50 billion "Strategic Energy Fund" partially financed by oil companies and aimed at investing in clean, renewable energy sources.