Fresh off off getting recognized as the 2011 GovFresh Awards ‘Public Servant of the Year,’ we asked the City of Austin’s Matthew Esquibel, Programmer Analyst Supervisor for Internet/Intranet Web Design in the Office of Communications & Technology Management, to share more about his work.
What are you working on in Austin that inspires you most?
We just launched a new Open Source website (austintexas.gov) and Open Data Portal (data.austintexas.gov) this week. It was the culmination of a lot of work between the city and the community and puts Austin in a great position to advance our goals of transparency, efficiency and collaboration. It is great to work with a variety of teams and individuals who believe so strongly in these initiatives. I am particularly excited about the City of Austin’s 2012 partnership with Code for America and look forward to working with them to bring great solutions to Austin.
What general trends do you see in government technology and open government that are changing the way government works?
I think there is a strong trend to try and learn lessons from the private sector and startup companies and to figure out how to apply those strategies to how government does business. It is clear that there is a large gap between the agility and innovation you typically find in a startup company and the business-as-usual approach often found in government. Focusing on open platforms, open data,agile project methodologies and collaborative community/non-profit partnerships–government is finding ways to do things smarter and we are starting to see the positive effect.
What big plans does Austin have for 2012?
2012 is all about building on the open platform and data initiatives we started this year. In many ways, our work in these areas is just beginning. We are obviously very excited about our partnership with Code for America and know that this relationship will really help keep the momentum going. We definitely want to show the world that being open to new solutions and partnerships will lead to great things for Austin and government in general.
Who gets a shout-out?
I definitely want to recognize the leadership at the City of Austin who have embraced open platform and data initiatives–it is crucial to have support at all levels to be successful. I also want to thank the web project team leaders Chris Florance and Charles Purma who never gave up on helping to push these initiatives forward–and the staff of the web team who did all the awesome work to implement them. Also, the Austin community, particularly OpenAustin, for being an articulate and energizing force. Raja, the Master Blaster! And finally, Mackenzie Kelly, a neighbor I have never met, but appears to be equally deserving of this honor.