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?
I agree that city departments need to provide more data and have a more open decision-making process. One of my priorities in office will be to improve citizen participation in City Council decisions and to make city operations more open, so that citizens can not only hold their government accountable, but also use their ingenuity and talents to improve our government.
Oftentimes city staff are given many directives by Council and must use their own judgment to prioritize these directives. Considering this culture, I can see why the posting of open data could be spotty across departments. To ensure data is made public on a timely basis, Council should deliver clear definitions to our staff on which timelines for posting data are satisfactory versus unacceptable.
⇒ 2. How would you evaluate departments' compliance with the Open Government Resolution? Would you support a resolution to create a quarterly report card?
I support initially requiring quarterly reports from the City Manger to monitor the progress across City departments on the Open Government Resolution. We should ensure that the reports back to Council also include citizen feedback. I would support a resolution to ensure that departments’ regular report backs include progress on Open Government to the City Manager, Council, and the public.
⇒ 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. Open source software should be a strong consideration in contract agreements. The data that is part of a software services agreement should be open to the public whenever possible, and the contracts should specify how that data will be made available. Council should pass a resolution that directs staff to ensure consistent application of these principles.
⇒ 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’m most interested in how the Chief Innovation Officer can use relationships with civic groups and businesses, and with city technology & resources, to support more creative and effective community engagement. As my campaign has knocked on the doors of a new November electorate that has never been involved in City Council elections before, I’ve come to understand how many Austinites feel totally disconnected from their City. This disconnect and disengagement is a missed opportunity for leveraging the voices and talents of Austinites to improve our city. I’d like for our CIO and her office to tackle this issue first.
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 City website was recently redone, and although I believe the website is improved, it is still not accessible for citizens. I do not believe that a high-level or top-down makeover of the website will improve this aspect of the website. I support working with community groups to think through solutions for this stubborn issue—however, I believe that since citizens and community organizations want different tools and information from different city departments, we should work to establish the list of needs for each individual department. I also believe strongly that Council should create a culture and vision for staff that the goals of transparency and community engagement supersede the goal of swift implementation of Council policy. This culture will prevent, in the future, unfortunate occurrences like the Economic Development Department removing economic development contracts from the City website.
⇒ 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?
⇒ 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?
My campaign has focused on being an inclusive city. Austin’s future will make or break on our ability to be economically inclusive, and integrated across cultures, races, and abilities.
Although most people are able to access the internet from their homes, library computers are the only computer access a segment of Austinities—disproportionately in my District—have to the internet, so it is important that we keep our libraries open, and invest in our neglected facilities, such as the Walnut Creek Library. I’m dedicated to making more of our critical city information and services available in multiple languages online. Over half of the population of 78753 and 78758 (the two largest zip codes in my district) does not speak English as their primary language at home. Furthermore, we can do more to provide information and services to the disabled.
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 believe we should pass this resolution in the form of binding city ordinance, setting a strict timeline to make this shift in 2015, considering that the next municipal elections will be coming quickly in 2016. I have already posted my own campaign finance reports as searchable files.
⇒ 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 post my itemized campaign receipts in searchable spreadsheet format within 30 days of filing my last report (just yesterday). I hope to do this within the next fifteen days, with a link on my website.