Twitter: @JimmyFlannigan

Campaign Finance Data Challenge: declined

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?

Compliance needs to be a part of performance review and budget allocation. It also needs to be part of how the City Manager is evaluated.

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

I fully support a report card to measure compliance. Although putting a “quarterly” timeline seems limiting. Implementing this resolution would necessitate a living document progress report.

⇒ 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?


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?

I am unsure that a separate innovation officer is necessary. Innovation should be as integrated into city administration as it is in the fabric of Austin’s entrepreneurial culture.

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?

As a web developer myself (in business 17 years), I may be the most qualified candidate to speak to website needs and solutions. The biggest challenge is fully understanding the “wants” of the community. Ultimately it requires ongoing feedback and process improvement.

⇒ 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. I believe such a system should support all manner of city services, not just the website.

⇒ 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?

Accessibility is crucial to government services. All taxpayers should have equitable access to information. That means taking a serious look at how accessibility is accomplished and ensuring we’re using the right tool for the right problem.

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?

It seems highly unlikely that this is a matter of technology. The city already has sufficient document management resources to handle such information. Non-compliance needs to start to be enforced.

⇒ 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?

As a web developer and experienced database manager, I am familiar with the “challenges” of publishing data in such a format. But there is no sense in measuring campaign compliance with a statute that is not a requirement. The real question is how will these requirements be implemented fairly, consistently, and not in an opt-out manner.