TrackDC opens up DC government operations to the public

TrackDC is an open government effort by the District of Columbia to make budget, data, contact and other government information accessible to citizens and the media.

The site offers:

A. Agency description, supervisor info.
B. Agency contact information, including social media accounts.
C. Performance plans and reports.
D. Budget & Operational Information
E. Customer Service (includes Agency Responsiveness Quality Assurance Results & Website traffic)
F. Performance indicators.
G. Data sets available in XML, CSV, KML and other formats.

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GovFresh Q&A with DC CTO Brian Sivak:

Why was TrackDC important for DC to create?

In 2007, Mayor Fenty made a promise to the residents of the District of Columbia that the “District Government must become accountable to the people of our city…”

TrackDC is part of the follow through on this promise and a great testament to the mayor’s ongoing effort to make the District a leader in government transparency. It is the world’s first real-time dashboard for Government operations.

How was it developed? How long did it take to implement?

The public version of TrackDC only took two months to develop as we re-used components from a similar application that is used internally to track agencies and their progress towards their goals.

Track DC is an ASP.NET web-application that interacts with the back-end tier retrieving and transferring data to the client through AJAX calls. The Report/Data Engine Service is a schedule based service that extracts information from various data sources (Oracle, QuickBase, Google Analytics, Google Data Feeds, etc.).

How can media or the average citizen use it?

Track DC is the one central location where all agency accountability information is presented. It’s easier for the media or the average citizen to visit one location rather than search the agency site, the CapStat site, the Data Catalog, and other sites just to find the same information. Additionally, Track DC provides a set of visualizations which presents agency operational information in a straightforward manner that anyone can use for analysis and oversight.

Both the media and residents can use Track DC to track the performance of specific DC government agencies, learn more about agencies ‘ Key Performance Indicators, budget, spending, agency news, access agency Data, and connect to the agency.

The media may be interested in a quick view of the agency’s budget, in downloading data specific to that agency, how that agency has performed in past years or is tracking in the current year with respect to its Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or any other operational measure.

A resident may be more interested in a service or an issue and therefore may be seeking a way to connect with the agency or to validate how their dollars are being budgeted and spent. Or, a person may think, “wow, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has over 4,000 employees; why isn’t there a copy on my corner at all times?” TrackDC will however illustrate specifically how the personnel is allocated, which will give users a clearer picture of how their tax dollars are being used.

What feedback have you received? What features will be available in the future?

In the initial feedback users requested better help files that will explain what is shown. The financial section include some terms that are understood by some but not all so the District needs to add to this feature of the site. In addition, more customer service data has been requested. We are still gathering feedback and new features and launch dates have not yet been determined.

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh and a strategy consultant for CivicActions and NuCivic. More about him here. He can be reached at luke@govfresh.com.

 

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