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Microsoft's Bill Gates Discusses Digital Divide

Presentation to Pan-America's Leaders Addresses Public/Private Sector Cooperation

Bill Gates spoke to 200 government officials at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) in Washington, DC, as part of a two-day summit bringing together leaders from the pan-American region.

In addition to Gates's presentation, the forum featured keynote addresses by General Colin Powell, former US secretary of state; Anibal Acevedo Vila, governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Kentucky Gov Ernie Fletcher; and Reg Alcock, president of the Treasury Board Canada Secretariat.

Gates spoke of several new and expanded initiatives that provide governments with resources to deliver affordable digital access and develop a well-structured and easily implemented approach to government interoperability.

"Governments worldwide continue to face challenges in ensuring the interoperability of their IT systems and in improving citizens' access to technology," Gates said.

 "Collaboration between the public and private sectors can deliver real progress, as shown by the Government Interoperability Initiative, the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program, and the initiative announced today between Microsoft and the Organization of American States."

A presenter from the new, Fiorina-free HP added to the discussion. "Interoperability is literally the hinge on a door that opens a completely new era of interaction between government agencies and the citizens they serve," said Enrique Barkey, worldwide director of Civilian Agency Solutions at HP.

"Through our partnership, agencies can provide citizens with an integrated, single point of access for government services while at the same time obtain an integrated view of the data they need to deliver those services more efficiently and cost-effectively."

Among the announcements at the meeting was that of a Microsoft donation to the Partnership in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas (POETA) program, which will be used to set-up and launch 12 POETA community-based technology learning centers.

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