Twitter: @DGarzaforD2

Campaign Finance Data Challenge: accepted

Open Data

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?

We must maintain open dialogue between City Staff and Austinites to encourage a transparent and predictable process. The new Council should embrace sharing data and the resulting inclusiveness for our residents, and take any steps necessary to ensure that the City is following through on all of the requirements of this resolution. If elected, I’ll work directly with the City Manager to develop a citywide plan including clear timelines to systematically fulfill our commitments to share data on the open data portal.

⇒ 2. How would you evaluate departments' compliance with the Open Government Resolution? Would you support a resolution to create a quarterly report card?

Yes, I think any steps that demonstrate that the City is being as transparent as possible are in the best interest of all stakeholders. Developing specific metrics as part of a quarterly report card will provide a predictable and consistent way to track our progress in implementing this resolution, and clearly show us where we have more work to do.

⇒ 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?

Yes. By making this investment, we will greatly ease the process for sharing data with Austinites. As we move forward with technological investments and changes to policies and procedures, we should ensure that we’re advancing the availability of public information for our residents.

Innovation Office

⇒ 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?

The new Chief Innovation Officer, Kerry O’Connor should help the entire City of Austin staff rethink how we approach our use of technology and develop new ways to collaborate with the public through data sharing and through direct interaction. O’Connor should also help the City to capitalize on potential partnerships with area technology groups and universities to assist us in advancing our mission to become one of the most open, innovative, and transparent cities in the country.

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?

The current city website is difficult to navigate, which will ultimately discourage many Austinites from engaging with the City. I have often spent more time than practical looking for something on the City website, and have consistently heard similar feedback from other Austin residents. I think a top priority of the new Chief Innovation Officer in partnership with the Public Information Office should be to make the city website easier to navigate.

⇒ 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?

Yes, we need to be customer service oriented and as transparent as possible. By providing this information to the public, we also increase accountability as all citizens will be able to see how their City is responding to the public in real time. This would be another important step forward in promoting the open data mentality.

⇒ 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?

All Austinites should have access to all city functions and information. Our libraries offer free internet service, but I have gone to use that service before I had internet at home and sometimes had to wait for extended periods of time to get access to a computer. We could offer computers with free internet services at other City facilities where Austinites could access online information more easily, given that many of our branch libraries have limited hours. We can also explore best practices from other cities to identify additional opportunities for improvement. For example, San Antonio has recently opened a “bookless” library (BiblioTech) where residents can borrow tablets to read books. Austin could look into doing something similar and offer other resources for Austinites to provide better access to online services.

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 would support giving City Staff specific direction to provide a public presentation to the entire Council about their progress in completing this project in addition to the status of implementing all of the recommendations included in the Open Government resolution discussed previously. Technology is evolving rapidly, and I believe there are even more opportunities to shed light on City data and foster more collaboration with the public.

⇒ 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?

I will abide by all legal requirements for my posting financial reports. By filling out my reports utilizing the software provided by the Texas Ethics Commission, they are searchable documents, as opposed to the reports submitted to the City by other candidates that are filled out by hand. I am open to posting my expenditures and receipts in a spreadsheet format, and would look to Open Austin to make a recommendation about the best location to post that information.