Campaign Finance Data Challenge: accepted
Many of these issues, such as the Open Data Portal and Open Government Resolution, are discussed in our Open Government Briefing Guide.
⇒ 1. How will you encourage City departments to comply with the Open Government Resolution and place useful data on the open data portal on a timely basis?
The City of Austin has made recent strides to move in to the 21st century, but we haven’t done nearly enough. We need to direct all city departments to place as much data as possible onto the portal. While working as chief of staff and general counsel for Senator Shapleigh in the Texas Senate, we passed Senate Bill 974 (76th Texas Legislature) This legislation launched Texas Online which was (not sure now) one of the best state online government website in the U.S. The Texas Tribune, for which I was a founding board member and board chair, has helped make public databases accessible and useful as a core value.
⇒ 2. How would you evaluate departments' compliance with the Open Government Resolution? Would you support a resolution to create a quarterly report card?
I would support a resolution for a quarterly report card, and I would seek to create a volunteer-based group of interested citizens to periodically evaluate compliance and advise strategies for achieving greater compliance.
⇒ 3. Would you support a resolution to require that any software or software services purchased by the City must be accompanied by an open data plan that indicates how public data managed by that system will be made available to the public?
⇒ 4. This past March, the City hired its first Chief Innovation Officer. What are the specific functions and initiatives you would like to see out of this office to advance the City's open government and open data efforts?
I believe the city can do so much more to improve transparency and accountability, and that begins with better utilizing our city’s web portal. The Chief Innovation Officer can help push the process along by coordinating with city departments to design best practices for getting data online, and to assist them in identifying software products that would facilitate this goal. Beyond this, the Chief Innovation Officer should be helping the City to take greater advantage of the high tech community and special expertise that we have in our community. We should be better at soliciting input, encouraging the involvement and crowd sourcing of innovation, and identifying best practices and new opportunities to develop a more robust web and data presence. I am open to suggestions and ideas for how to better implement open data efforts.
Website and Online Services
⇒ 5. What steps would you take to help ensure the City of Austin website provides the tools and information that citizens and community groups want?
I will immediately convene and empower a group of citizen activists to provide more guidance, feedback, and suggestions for how to improve the website. My understanding is that the website was built by citizen activists, and we should maintain and improve upon it in the same way that it was constructed.
⇒ 6. Would you support action to create an online issue feedback/reporting system, where a citizen could report an issue with the City's website and other online properties, and track city response to that issue?
Without question, yes.
⇒ 7. There are strong benefits to providing city information and services online. Many residents, however, experience barriers to access. (See discussion of "Digital Inclusion" in our Open Government Briefing Guide.) What do you see as the City's responsibility regarding digital inclusion, and what steps would you take to address these concerns?
The city must account for every user of its data services and website, so we must ensure that there is universal compatibility. As mayor, I’ll work with major stakeholders from all communities in Austin to ensure equal access.
Open Data Exercise: Campaign Finance Filings
The City of Austin currently posts candidate and office holder financial statements as scanned facsimiles (PDF format) of the filed, attested documents. In 2012, the City Council approved a resolution to post these filings in a searchable, digital form.
⇒ 8. What would you do to ensure this project is completed before the next municipal election?
I’ll direct the City Manager and the City Clerk to make sure this gets done. I’ll rally the community to provide digital solutions for low cost if necessary. This shouldn’t be a big lift.
⇒ 9. Will you publicly post your campaign receipts and expenditures (as reported to the City on form C/OH) online, in CSV spreadsheet data format, within 30 days of filing a report with the Austin City Clerk? Where will you post it?
Yes. We’ll absolutely post ours, and we’ll post the other major candidates (if we are able to develop theirs in time). We have discussed, as a campaign, doing this anyway. This tool has been needed for some time, and voters deserve to have the ability to see who is raising what and from whom.