Information and communication technologies, widely known as ICTs, have radically changed our societies. No economy can be competitive today without efficient supply and use of ICTs. Nor can policy makers hope to foster social and economic development unless they fully embrace it.

Several terms are used to designate the growing use of ICTs. One such term, the “Internet economy”, covers the full range of economic, social, and cultural activities supported by the Internet and related technologies. It was in recognition of the need to further the development of the Internet economy that ministers and representatives of OECD countries, meeting in the Korean capital, Seoul, adopted the Seoul Declaration for the Future of the Internet Economy on 18 June 2008. The declaration, which forms the basis for action by OECD countries to strengthen the Internet economy, states its intent as follows:

We share a vision that the Internet economy ... will strengthen our capacity to improve the quality of life for all our citizens ... by providing new opportunities for employment, productivity, education, health and public services as well as addressing environmental and demographic concerns.

“Information society” is another term that has been coined to describe how ICTs have come to shape society. It commonly refers to societies where ICTs play a central role, affecting every walk of life, and where creating, distributing, and manipulating information have become significant activities. Governments of information societies face the daunting challenge of harnessing ICT to the effective, efficient delivery of public policies and services. Spain is one such country.

In 2008, after a decade of rapid growth, the country entered recession, like other European economies (OECD, 2010c). The result in Spain has been a massive rise in unemployment to a level that has now passed 20%. Severe fiscal imbalances and budget challenges, an increasing gross debt and low growth are among key issues. Instability and rising interest rates in the euro area reinforce the need to ensure trust in Spanish economic policies and government administration (OECD, 2011a). Spain has already undertaken far-reaching measures, reducing expenditure, public sector wages and staffing, and public infrastructure investment (OECD, 2011b; 2011a). Policy responses are urgently required both to consolidate public finances and restore economic growth.

Information society policies and ICT are considered important to Spanish economic recovery and growth (OECD, 2010c). Indeed, Spanish policy makers and stakeholders also believe that information society polices and ICT may be an instrument of societal change and the advent of a competitive, equitable, sustainable knowledge-based economy. However, crucial to any successful ICT-related initiative are regional and local implementation and cross-regional co-ordination. Spain has a decentralised multi-level administrative structure with regional governments that boast a broad span of competencies and account for roughly one-third of all public expenditure

(OECD, 2011b). Some 8 000 municipalities and other entities form the local level of government.

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