United States

California issues open source, code reuse policy

code.ca.gov

The California Department of Technology has set a new standard for state government technology offices, releasing an open source and code reuse policy “to better support cost efficiency, effectiveness, and the public’s experience with government programs.”

“Currently, when Agencies/state entities produce custom-developed source code, they do not make their new code broadly available for state government-wide reuse,” says CDT in a newly-issued technology letter. “These challenges have resulted in duplicative acquisitions for substantially similar code and the inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. Enhanced reuse of custom-developed code across state government can have significant benefits for taxpayers, including decreasing duplicative costs for the same code and reducing vendor lock-in.”

The new policy also establishes the creation of a state public code repository, located at code.ca.gov.

Related to this new policy, updates were made to the State Administrative Manual Sections 49844984.1 and 4984.2.

Read the complete technology letter.

Podcasting local government dysfunction

Tear It DownTear It Down is local government’s S-Town.

Michael Karlik has created a well-investigated, thoroughly-documented, articulately-reported podcast series on government dysfunction in North College Hill, Ohio. It centers on how a small group of disgruntled residents can negatively disrupt small town politics and government administration, complete with characters, personalities and pettiness.

Says Karlik in an interview with Route Fifty’s Kate Elizabeth Queram:

This is about a group of people who were dissatisfied with the way their local government was run. They wanted to change it, which is a natural impulse. They had very valid points of view about how poorly things were run. The problem was that their tactics were not as noble as their principles. They bumbled their way through a lot of things. They made people upset, they put the city in jeopardy, and they at times appeared to not know what they were doing. They talked a lot during the campaign but once they got into office it pretty much turned into a vengeful motivation and that’s what, I think, made it so hard and so personal. When you’re not passing legislation or acting on the policies you campaigned on, and you’re just focused on firing people or cutting salaries or or saying, “We won’t do anything until our demands are met”—a city government doesn’t work that way. Congress barely works that way. The story is kind of about what happens when Congress comes to small-town America.

Tear It Down will, or should, inspire you to get more active in local government politics or, at minimum, pay attention to who is leading and what is happening within your community.

Listen:

Follow Tear It Down on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe on iTunes.

Serving California: Angie Quirarte

Photo: Angie Quirarte

Photo: Angie Quirarte

Angie Quirarte is a behind-the-scenes hero for the state of California, leading on issues such as public sector workforce recruitment and retention, public data, creating a user-friendly government, improving  internal government processes and more.

Let’s start with your personal story. How did you get to where you are today?

I grew up in humble beginnings and benefited from public services that I now work on to improve.

The morning of September 11, 2001 I was at the Mexican border with my parents and two younger brothers. The uncertainty of the promised American Dream was worth the risk of leaving our lives and family behind. I never imagined myself working in government; but now that I am here, I realize that this is where you can honestly make a difference.

I found my way to public service through the Capital Fellows Program as an Executive Fellow in 2013 after graduating from UCSB. As an Executive Fellow I was exposed to the highest levels of state government and worked on policy issues that strive to make government better.

I didn’t think I’d stay in Sacramento after the fellowship, but the work and the mission made me fall in love with public service.

What is your role with the state of California, and what are you working on?

I was recently promoted as the new Assistant Secretary for Digital Engagement at the California Government Operations Agency (GovOps). The Agency oversees the departments with functions that make government run, including technology, procurement, and the state civil service workforce.

Within the Innovation and Accountability team at GovOps, I primarily work on policy and pilot programs that help create tomorrow’s government today by delivering better digital services, promoting the use of data to drive decision-making, and putting Californians and users at the center when designing technology projects meant to serve them.

Over the last few years I have focused on building and sustaining the open data program for the state and most recently helped coordinate the creation of the new Department of Tax and Fee Administration within a span of six weeks.

My role is to identify pockets of innovation, pilot, implement and iterate!

What’s the state of open data in California and what can we expect in the future?

Open data has slowly evolved at the state level. When I first started no one knew what open data was or why it was important. The world was fastly publishing data and I was working on steering the state in the same direction.

As I learned more about our departments and what other governments were doing, I realized that the important thing wasn’t how many datasets we could publish. What matters is the quality of the data and what one does with it.

With this in mind we highly encourage and guide that departments that publish data onto data.ca.gov must also have civic engagement. This not only validates the value of the data, but also creates a collaborative environment where government can partner with others to solve common problems.

I hope to apply more of this for the future of open data in California. We have to democratize the access of data to the people affected by programs that aren’t using it to drive positive change.

Can you share more about NxtGov and why it matters?

NxtGov is a network of public servants and partners that know government has the potential to work better for its people.

I founded NxtGov to bring pride into the profession of public service and recruit the next generation of government leaders. We provide a safe space for change agents that want to connect with others and provide professional development opportunities and community engagement events. We consult government agencies on things they should consider when recruiting and training the next generation workforce and actively coach students on the benefits of working for the state and recruit and onboard them into the state workforce.

NxtGov matters because we break the silos of government and empower our members to become change agents in their departments. We make a difference by identifying key issues affecting our workforce now and bringing decision makers to the table to address the problems as the arise.

Can you share more about the Eureka Institute and why it matters?

The Eureka Institute is a hub of the Innovation and Accountability team within GovOps.

We established the Eureka Institute to make sure that government has a space to constantly innovate. Our focus lies on innovating government by developing programs, pilots, training and tools that develop our people, improve our processes, and leverage our technology to drive better program outcomes.

Within Eureka we have the CA Statewide Leadership Academy, the CA Lean Academy, and CalData which includes the open data program. These programs are changing the way the departments operate and that matters because the Eureka Institute allows government to adapt to a changing world.

While most people would think that innovation comes from fancy technology and robots, I’ve come to learn that innovation is just another word for adaptation. Government bureaucracies must adapt their business operations in a changing world so that people can work collaboratively and leverage tools to better prepare for the government of the future.  

Who are your government heroes?

I am surrounded by many individuals at all levels who inspire me on a daily basis.

Working in public service you encounter people of all backgrounds, and I have a long list of people I’d love to recognize, but one of the most influential heroines is my boss and GovOps Agency Secretary Marybel Batjer. She was recently named as one of Governing’s Public Official of the Year, and she deserves the recognition. I’ve been fortunate to witness many leadership styles over the last few years, and she stands out for her kindness and ability to dive in. I strive to learn from her leadership and kind demeanor. Marybel constantly reminds us that we are here to serve the public.

How can others connect with you?

Telling Detroit’s stories

Photo courtesy of Aaron Foley

Earlier this year, I visited Detroit for the first time, spending a quick 48 hours in downtown and areas such as the Artist Village, and local businesses Motorcity Java House, Good Cakes and Bakes and Artesian Farms.

I quickly fell in love with Detroit, the energy and sense of local pride, but felt I didn’t get the full story, and left wanting to spend more time taking it all in, hearing more about its history and people and future.

Aaron Foley is Detroit’s first chief storyteller, appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan in April 2017, to help the city go beyond formalized bureaucratic communications and public relations and share the stories that don’t always get heard.

A Detroit native, he is the author of “How To Live In Detroit Without Being A Jackass” and former editor of BLAC Detroit magazine.

Aaron shares his personal story, Detroit’s and why a role such as his is important for the city.

Let’s start with your personal Detroit story.

It really doesn’t start with me, it starts with my elders. I come from a very Southern family who migrated to Detroit like thousands of other black southerners who came to the Midwest and northern cities to work in the factories. My great-grandmother raised three children in the city’s North End and later the east side of the city. My grandfather grew up to get his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and worked in health-care management in various capacities in Lansing, the state’s capital, and here in Detroit. My mother was a longtime reporter and editor at the Michigan Chronicle, a Detroit-based black weekly newspaper. They (and countless others, to be sure) were of greatest influence to me, because of their passion for Detroit and Detroiters. I grew up on the west side being proud of who I am and where I’m from, but when I went to college at Michigan State University, I found myself having to constantly defend critics of the city who were misunderstood about what Detroit was about. I heard all the stereotypes you could ever hear about an urban environment, but no one knew about the Detroit many of us know and love. So I’ve made it my mission to educate people about what it’s like here, something I’ve done as a journalist for many years.

What is your role as the city’s first chief storyteller?

I oversee a multi-platform initiative where we gather stories and information from all across the city under an umbrella we’re calling The Neighborhoods. We believe the neighborhoods — there are more than 200 spread out across 140-ish square miles — are the spirit of Detroit, and we’re committed to telling the stories of who lives here. There’s definitely an information gap about what people know about what’s happening in downtown Detroit and what people don’t know about what’s happening in the more residential areas. It’s my task to fill in that gap with news and feature stories on our website, TheNeighborhoods.org, and our cable channel for which I produce content.

How did this role transpire?

It’s something Mayor Duggan had been thinking about for a few years but didn’t fully realize until now. It’s something new for our city government, where we can utilize one of our cable channels and maximize it to its full potential, but also deliver content in a new way through our website.

Why is this important, for Detroit and other cities who might need a role like yours?

It’s important because I think there’s an opportunity here for people across to Detroit to see that not only can their voices be heard, but that the City of Detroit is making sure that their voices are heard. It’s another form of validation, but it’s a different form of validation beyond providing basic city services. All Cities have an opportunity like this, to really show that residents matter.

When you announced your new role, you said Detroit’s narrative is getting lost in translation? What’s the Detroit story we typically don’t hear?

We typically don’t always hear about residents who stayed in Detroit over the last decade or so. It’s no secret that the city has suffered a massive population loss, but for those of us that love the city so much, when do we ever hear from them? This is a way (but to be clear, not the only way) of showing “hey, thank you for loving Detroit enough. We’re going to do our best in return.”

Who is your local hero, the one person that is the embodiment of Detroit and why?

I’d have to say my late grandfather, Dr. Harvey Day. He beat all the odds — coming up from rural, segregated Alabama up here to the North End. When he was in high school, he helped charter the school’s first National Honor Society at (now-defunct) Northern High. He graduated early, went to the Army, came back and decided he wanted to be a nurse, but Wayne State University at the time didn’t believe a black man could be one. He broke that barrier, and then went on to co-found a scholarship for nursing students a year later. And he didn’t stop there. He got his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, and went on to turn around a troubled health system, then went on to work for the State of Michigan’s health department. After leaving the State, he co-founded a pharmacy benefit management corporation, and one of his last major career accomplishments before his passing was protecting the benefits of retired Detroit police officers that would have been lost after the city’s bankruptcy. It’s his level of commitment to Detroiters that I hope to aspire to.

I’m in Detroit for 24 hours. What’s the ‘Aaron Foley Tour?’

Where to begin? I love Mexican food, so I would start at Taqueria el Rey or El Camino Real. Then I’d hit up the Detroit Institute of Arts (there’s a massive local hip-hop exhibit on display there now), and maybe a quick tour of some of Detroit’s most architecturally distinct neighborhoods like Indian Village or Palmer Woods. Some of the best food for dinner is takeout; maybe hit up Uptown BBQ or Asian Corned Beef, and take it with you to Belle Isle and watch the sun set over the river. If you don’t want to get it to go, I suggest Chartreuse for dinner and cocktails.

How can others connect with you, what you’re doing and the city of Detroit?

Pretty easy. I’m all over Twitter (@aaronkfoley), or you can email me at FoleyA@detroitmi.gov. To see the stories we’ve been telling, visit TheNeighborhoods.org.

Related

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon on dresses, roses and personal empowerment

Heidi Harmon

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon has an inspiring interview with the The California Report on her personal style, what it re-enforces and the sense of empowerment it gives her.

Harmon, whose signature attire is “strong but feminine” dresses (reporter John Sepulvado’s words) and a rose accessory — in her hair or pinned to her dress — that pays homage to her Pasadena roots.

Harmon shares her sentiments on not bending to norms once elected, becoming something you’re not, and her attire as a personal statement with intent, despite at times the judgmental feedback she’s received:

“That’s the mistake I think people make. They come into politics probably for really good reasons. They’re probably mostly decent people that really care about something. Something’s impacted them or their families and they want to advocate for a different way, and then they get in and there’s that really strong tendency to listen to the voices that suggest ‘oh, no, no, no, no, you can’t vote that way, you can’t you can’t say that, you can’t dress like that, because you’re not going to get re-elected.’ … For me, I have no interest in presenting in a more masculine way, which has traditionally been the model for women in business. … When I walk into a room, I want it to be really clear that a woman has entered this space. So, to me, it’s a commitment to that more feminine approach, which I think is really important, and a commitment to courage, that I am not going to allow others to decide how I am going to be in this position. … I think there’s always something threatening about a woman who takes her space, and I think this suggests that to some extent. I have something to say. I have people’s voices that aren’t being heard that I have an opportunity to represent, and I’m here to work with you, and I’m also here to take up my own space.”

Listen

San Francisco seeks CIO

San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco is looking for a chief information officer.

From the announcement:

The Director of DT/CIO will have outstanding leadership qualities that will bring stability and credibility to the position. With a commitment to success and a genuine desire to be a long-term technology leader for a world class city, the Director will have frequent opportunities to focus on internal operations across a broad spectrum of needs. Top candidates for consideration will have had prior senior-level and management experience in a complex organization that promotes best practices. The Director will have an engaging and energetic style; be self-confident yet humble; and believe in inspiring, motivating, and empowering staff to achieve well defined goals.

Salary range is up to $235,820. Applications are due February 28.

Details and how to apply.

Bringing California open data to life

Okay, I admit it: Even as a champion of open data, I find that it’s often mundane to view data on a portal. Simple lists of datasets — and even the maps and charts you can create — don’t truly show the intrinsic value of data that’s been freed to benefit communities.

To really capture the meaning and potential of such data, you need people to bring data to life — in the form of local collaborations, news stories, and apps that provide the audiences you’re trying to reach with easy access to information and services. It takes people, not portals, to leverage data to improve the usage and delivery of services; raise broad awareness of issues; and inform local and statewide policymaking. For example, leveraging health data from California’s health department’s open data portal to create stories about measles-immunization rates for kindergarteners in the Golden State. Reporters and advocates harnessing this information brought this story to life.

Data just sitting on a portal can’t do that.

And all of these people who seek data for their work need to connect with each other. An advocacy organization in Fresno may want to learn from similar work being done in San Diego. A nurse at a health clinic in downtown L.A. may want to partner with a researcher at USC who’s got expertise with health data. An epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health may want to team up with staff at local health departments.

As open data efforts statewide expand and mature, the need has become clear for data stakeholders to collaborate in these and other ways. To help address this, the California Health & Human Services Agency (CHHS) has initiated a project — tentatively dubbed the Data Commons — to help Californians make effective use of publicly available data.

This initiative, which is funded by the California HealthCare Foundation, had its roots in outreach work conducted through the California Health Data Project; I was involved with this effort, which was aimed at encouraging local use of data from the CHHS data portal. The California Health Data Project has helped bring together innovative leaders from CHHS, local governments, and, most importantly, communities  — healthcare providers, civic hackers, and advocacy groups — to ensure the state’s valuable health data is finding its way into the hands of people and organizations who can put it to good use.

During an event last year sponsored by the California Health Data Project, we had an “A-ha!” moment. At this Code for San Jose meeting, a volunteer technologist who was eager to improve his community with his technical chops commented that, while it’s great to see all these data being released, how does he — that is, someone who has no experience in health — know what to build from data that’s been made available? It’s true that he can’t rightly expect to have the subject matter expertise to know what to create, but what if he easily could pair up with a doctor who’s on the front lines of providing care, each contributing their own expertise to build data tools that can make a difference in San Jose. That’s an organizing concept around the Data Commons that CHHS wants to build.

The project, still in its formative stages, is a team effort involving CHHS, Purchia Communications, and CivicMakers. They’re all eager to gather input as this project evolves, so stay tuned for specific ways you can contribute. In the meantime, fill out this form to express your interest and join the project email list.

Bay Area cities team with startups to solve civic problems, scale government innovation

STIR 2016

Bay Areas cities San Francisco, Oakland, West Sacramento and San Leandro teamed with startups this year as part of the Startup in Residence program to “explore ways to use technology to make government more accountable, efficient and responsive.”

The 2016 cohort included 14 companies that worked with the cities over 16 weeks, and the teams made their presentations Friday (see #STIR2016).

All of the projects were fantastic, but Binti really stood out and opened my eyes to the impact modernized technology can have on truly changing lives.

The STIR program started in 2014 and serves as a model for other geographic regions that want to create momentum around civic technology and scaling government innovation.

Big shout to Jeremy Goldberg, Krista Canellakis, Jay Nath, the SF Office of Civic Innovation, an incredible team of ambassadors and mentors, Monique Woodard from 500 Startups and, of course, Lawrence Grodeska and the CivicMakers team. It’s inspiring to see public sector leaders working proactively with startups to break through the procurement and technology mold and bring better digital services to those they serve.

For those interested in participating in the the 2017 cohort, see the participation requirements and apply.

San Francisco seeks chief digital services officer to lead online strategy, execution

Port of San Francisco (Photo: Luke Fretwell)

Port of San Francisco (Photo: Luke Fretwell)

San Francisco announced the creation of a new internal digital agency and is looking for a chief digital services officer to lead its efforts.

From the announcement:

The Digital Services Team will partner with departments to modernize digital services citywide. Four fundamental principles guide this task: put the needs of residents first, focus on delivery and outcomes over process, promote an agile and data driven culture, and make City services accessible to everyone.

It’s unclear what the roadmap is for building a support team to execute the city’s digital strategy, and what influence the new role will have in determining its underlying technology, but this is currently the best job opening in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Plus, you get to work closely with Joy Bonaguro and Jay Nath.

Apply here.

City enthusiasts, innovators: Register for BRIDGE SF

Golden Gate Bridge (photo: Luke Fretwell)

Golden Gate Bridge (photo: Luke Fretwell)

San Francisco Bay Area city enthusiasts and innovators can now register for BRIDGE SF, “a collaboration of public, private, non-profit, and academic institutions coming together to challenge assumptions, develop skills, share best practices, and build partnerships that drive innovation for a better tomorrow.”

The conference, held in multiple areas around the Bay Area over four days, will foucs on topics such as smart cities, mobility, Internet of things, sustainability, resiliency, economic development and arts and culture.

BRIDGE SF is a collaboration between the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, the University of California, Berkeley and City Innovate Foundation.

Learn more and register.