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?
Publishing open data needs to become part of the standard practices of the various departments, which should be reflected in performance measures. While we’ve seen participation in some departments, others have lagged behind. I am hopeful that the Chief Innovation Officer can put some new energy behind this initiative, and I will be asking the City Manager for more regular updates and schedules for implementation of the directive. I believe this gets to a broader conversation about how this new 10-1 Council will govern and operate to oversee and ensure implementation of policy priorities. I anticipate such a conversation being the Council’s first priority in January.
⇒ 2. How would you evaluate departments' compliance with the Open Government Resolution? Would you support a resolution to create a quarterly report card?
I am supportive of a more detailed scorecard with performance-based metrics. The website currently only tracks the number of data sources, but it does not reflect public feedback on quality or usefulness. I also support engaging the boards and commissions
that are regularly involved with the departments (Planning Commission = Planning and Development Review; Parks and Recreation Board = Parks Department, etc.) to help the Council track the roll out of open government at the departmental level.
⇒ 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 data provides the city a better opportunity to increase community participation and the functionality of the software purchased. With open source software, we can also potentially increase our return on investment and save costs by leveraging community talent and interest.
⇒ 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 supported the budget amendment to add the Chief Innovation Officer position because it was clear the City needed a more directed focus at meeting our open government and open data goals. The position will be important in fostering relationships with and engaging businesses and community leaders to leverage our technological resources and expand the reach of our open data initiatives. Additionally, this position will be an important facilitator in getting our departments to work together and share information, make data more accessible, and fulfill the requirements of the Open Government Directive.
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?
More than anything, the Council needs to promote and foster community participation within the city departments. I support two-way communication, because I believe City Hall and city government should be accessible and responsive to everyone. Throughout my term, I have looked for new ways to engage Austinites who cannot participate in more traditional ways. I have led and supported initiatives to create more opportunities for people to address Council on issues that are important to them, like sponsoring Saturday meetings and pushing for time-certain agenda items.
The website is another tool to reach more residents, and we need to ensure that as we are putting out more information on it, (1) people know it is there, (2) the information is accessible and useful, and (3) residents have an opportunity to engage in two-way dialogue about the information. I think we will find that as we create more and better
opportunities for the community to collaborate with department processes, we will get a better understanding on what information and tools are useful.
⇒ 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; a public feedback mechanism is one of the important components of the City Manager’s Directive. There needs to be a simple method for the public to give feedback on the data published and provide input for which data should be published. Additionally, after the City responds to the feedback, the response should be published with a description of the actions taken or reasons for not taking action.
⇒ 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?
In March of this year, I supported the directive to develop a Digital Inclusion Strategic Plan to address access and adoption of digital technology, which will serve as a guiding document for providing digital inclusion opportunities and contribute to the City’s goal of ensuring all Austinites have access to digital technology opportunities. And, I also voted for the resolution directing the City Manager to work with the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission to identify opportunities to incorporate digital inclusion into Imagine Austin in the 2014 annual update to the comprehensive plan.
Austin is one of the nation’s major hubs of technology; we have the talent and will have the infrastructure (three separate providers of gigabit internet service) to ensure all Austinites are digitally engaged. After the City Manager prepares his report, I would like to bring those recommendations to two community-wide commissions on which I serve—the Community Advancement Network (CAN) and the Joint Subcommittees of AISD, Travis County, and the City of Austin—to have a broader conversation on how we can leverage opportunities to foster more digital inclusion.
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?
This project is already long overdue, and it is simply about setting priorities. The easiest solution would be for the City to work with the State on opening up access to its campaign filing software to local races. If this cannot be achieved, the City will need to develop or purchase our own software.
⇒ 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?
Most likely. One of my volunteers has conducted a trial run and confirmed that she has the technological expertise to perform this task; the main challenge will be finding time within a busy campaign with as little time remaining as we have.