Gavin Newsom

GitChat with Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is our next GitChat guest. Newsom is also the author of “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.”

For those not familiar with GitChat, it’s an open, informal chat with leading civic innovators using GitHub as a platform for engagement.

Newsom will answer questions from May 6-7 (noon-noon PT).

Submit your questions »

Is California forcing state agencies under one private cloud?

Golden Gate Bridge (Photo: Luke Fretwell)

Golden Gate Bridge (Photo: Luke Fretwell)

Update: A DGS representative notified us that these restrictions will be lifted “ballpark in the next few months” once the state has updated its cloud computing terms and conditions policy, which is currently under review.

The California Department of General Services is issuing a list of stipulations to cloud computing vendors that forces them into an agreement to not sell their services to state agencies, according to a document obtained by GovFresh.

The document, titled “Acceptance of Terms Related to Cloud Computing Solutions Under the CMAS [California Multiple Award Schedules] Program,” outlines four stipulations that, if not adhered to, “may result in contract termination.”

Those stipulations include:

  1. CMAS contractor guarantees that it will not sell cloud products or services to California State agencies through the CMAS program.
  2. CMAS contractor agrees not to process California State agencies’ CMAS purchase orders that include cloud computing software and/or vendor related services and to alert the CMAS Program administrators when such an order has been received.
  3. CMAS contractor agrees to refund in full any payments resulting from a sale of a cloud product or service to California State agencies under a CMAS contract whether or not cloud products or services are purchased willfully or inadvertently.
  4. Contractor’s non-compliance regarding the sale of cloud products or services may result in contract termination.

Attempts to obtain comments from DGS and the California Technology Agency remain unanswered.

California is currently developing its own private cloud, called CalCloud, that is expected to launch in early 2014.

“California is in the cloud,” California Chief Information Officer Carlos Ramos said Monday at a government technology and innovation event hosted by TechWire. “We’re moving into the cloud very rapidly, but we do have to move a little bit gingerly.”

Prior to Ramos’ talk at the same event, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom was critical of the state’s progress and unwillingness to pursue innovative approaches to technology, especially the cloud.

“By 2016, it’s estimated that the bulk of IT spending in business will be on cloud computing platforms and applications, according to the IDC Worldwide and Regional Public IT Cloud Services forecast,” wrote Newsom recently on Huffington Post. “Yet many in California government still resist cloud computing even as the federal government and states including Colorado adopt cloud-first priorities.”

FreshWrap: Citizenville, EU and Japan data portals, NYC BigApps

Here’s what made my radar this week. Share your open government news in the comments.

Code for America is starting a weekly hack night at its San Francisco headquarters.

Lessons learned from the Kenya Open Data Initiative.

Four lessons learned launching Code4Kenya.

Emer Coleman is leaving UK’s Government Digital Service. Here’s what she learned.

I really enjoy TechPresident’s weekly podcast, especially this week’s critique of Gavin Newsom and his new book Citizenville from Sarah Lai Stirland.

See also Beth Noveck’s review of Citizenville.

For these urban mechanics, city hall is a place to experiment.

Vegas Hack disrupts open data.

Japan launches an open data portal.

The EU also launched an open data portal, powered by CKAN.

San Diego’s open government department has its limits.

Open Data Day 2013 wrap-up from Open Knowledge Foundation.

OKF will host an Open Data on the Web Workshop April 23-24 “to discuss how we can realize the promise of open data on the web.”

Philadelphia publishes an open data guidebook For city departments.

From Fairy Tale to Reality: Dispelling the Myths around Citizen Engagement”

NYC BigApps is coming soon.

Is New York City the best place in the world for open data? Find out March 7.

Oakland pulls ahead of SF in the Bay Bridge Open Government Series

OaklandIt hasn’t garnered the accolades San Francisco historically has, but it appears Oakland is starting to pull ahead in the Bay Bridge Open Government Series.

The active OpenOakland team, with its weekly meetup, first CivicMeet Oakland, community-driven open data platform, CityCamp Oakland, Oakland Wiki and upcoming Open Data Day Oakland hackathon, is quickly becoming the civic hacker model for all other metropolitan areas.

The city is also showing signs of open government adoption, including its willingness to collaborate with OpenOakland, launching a new official open data portal and hosting Code for America fellows this year.

While San Francisco has adopted some of the above, with the exception of the CfA fellows program, much of its open government achievements were accomplished during the Gavin Newsom years. And, surprisingly, an organized civic hacker community has yet to emerge.

In recognition of OpenOakland’s work, Oakland’s city council recently passed the following resolution:


WHEREAS, Open Data represents the idea that information such as government databases should be easily and freely available to everyone to use and republish without restrictions; and

WHEREAS, Open Data increases transparency, access to public information, and improves coordination and efficiencies among agencies and partner organizations; and

WHEREAS, access to public information promotes a higher level of civic engagement and allows citizens to provide valuable feedback to government officials regarding local issues; and

WHEREAS, this month Oakland has formally announced the launch of its open data platform “,” that will serve as the central repository of the City of Oakland’s public data, such as data on crime, public works, public facilities, and spatial data, allowing all users to freely access, visualize and download City data, enabling public scrutiny and empowering the creativity of civic-minded software developers; and

WHEREAS, Oakland was honored to be selected as one of only ten cities in America to participate in the 2013 Code for America (CFA) program, where three CFA fellows will work with the City to identify web-based solutions to break down cumbersome bureaucratic processes and emerge with better systems that will help cut costs, increase efficiency, and provide better service to the public; and

WHEREAS, Open Data activists have recently founded the civic innovation organization Open Oakland – a Code for America Brigade, which meets every Tuesday evening in City Hall, bringing together coders, designers, “data geeks,” journalists, and city staff to collaborate on solutions to improve Oakland’s service delivery to all citizens of Oakland; and

WHEREAS, on December 1, 2012 Open Oakland produced the first ever “CityCamp Oakland,” inside city hall, where over 100 stakeholders came together to discuss solutions to improve Oakland; and

WHEREAS, Oakland recently launched a community engagement web site called
“,” to encourage community ideas, feedback and suggestions to help shape, grow and sustain the healthy future of Oakland; and

WHEREAS, “February 23, 2013 is International Data Day,” a day in which citizens around the world will gather to access Open Data, write applications, create visualizations, publish analyses, and encourage the adoption of open data policies at the local, regional and national government levels; and


WHEREAS, on February 23, 2013 at Oakland’s 81st Avenue Branch Library, Open Oakland, in honor of International Open Data Day, will host a day of “hacking” public data and building data visualization tools to help explain data and make stronger community-government connections; therefore be it

RESOLVED: That the City Council hereby declares February 23, 2013 as Open Data Day in the City of Oakland; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED: That in honor of International Open Data Day the City Council hereby recognizes and salutes Open Oakland founders Steve Spiker and Eddie Tejada; Oakland’s 2013 Code For America Fellows Richa Agarwal, Cris Cristina and Sheila Dugan, and Oakland’s Code for America sponsors: The Akonadi Foundation, The William H. Donner Foundation, The Robert A.D. Schwartz Fund, The Mitchell Kapor Foundation, Accela and Pandora, for their service to the City of Oakland and its citizens.

San Francisco set to appoint chief data officer in revised open data legislation

San Francisco will announce proposed revisions to open data legislation Monday that includes the creation of a chief data officer who will serve as the primary evangelist for making city data freely-available to the public.

As part of the new legislation (full text below), the CDO will “be responsible for sharing City data with the public, facilitating the sharing of information between City departments, and analyzing how data sets can be used to improve city decision making.”

Also included is the requirement that each city agency appoint an open data coordinator and establish open data plans, implementation timelines and itemizations of what data is being collected.

“Open Data is an important resource for growing innovation,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in a prepared statement. “City-maintained datasets hold a wealth of value for citizens when they are liberated from the halls of government. When data is freely accessible, it increases government transparency and efficiency, while also driving civic innovation and job creation.”

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom first launched the city’s open data efforts in 2009 through a centralized website, DataSF. The site was enhanced in March 2012 and is now powered by the data platform startup Socrata.

Watch live

Live announcement with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee at 11:00 a.m. PST.

Live stream by Ustream


The following text outlines the proposed revisions to San Francisco’s existing Open Data legislation:

[Administrative Code–Citywide Coordination of Open Data Policy and Procedures]

Ordinance amending San Francisco’s open data policies and procedures and establishing the position and duties of Chief Data Officer and Departmental Data Coordinators, and amending San Francisco Administrative Code Sections 22D.2 and 22D.3 to implement these changes.

NOTE: Additions are single-underline italics Times New Roman;

deletions are strike-through italics Times New Roman.

Board amendment additions are double-underlined;

Board amendment deletions are strikethrough normal.
Do NOT delete this NOTE: area.

Be it ordained by the people of the City and County of San Francisco:

Section 1. Findings.

(a) San Francisco has been a leader in open data policy in the United States. In 2009, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Directive promoting Open Data. In 2010, the Board of Supervisors expanded on the Directive with the passage of the City’s Open Data Policy (Ordinance 293-10), codified in San Francisco’s Administrative Code Section 22D.

(b) An open data policy has been shown to drive increased government efficiency and civic engagement, leading to social and economic benefits as a result of innovative citizen interaction with government. Social and economic benefits include, but are not limited to:

(1) Empowering citizens through democratization of information and fostering citizen participation in City projects;

(2) Supporting early stage entrepreneurship;

(3) Encouraging positive environments that contribute to workforce development and job creation; and

(4) Increasing a positive business environment and promoting public-private partnerships.

(c) City departments should take further steps to make their data sets available to the public in a more timely and efficient manner. San Francisco will improve and expand its Open Data Policy by creating the position of Chief Data Officer and Department Data Coordinators to implement the standards and policies articulated in the City’s Open Data Policy.

Section 2. The San Francisco Administrative Code is hereby amended by amending Sections 22D.2, and 22D.3, to read as follows:


(a) Chief Data Officer.

In order to coordinate implementation, compliance, and expansion of the City’s Open Data Policy, the Mayor shall appoint a Chief Data Officer (CDO) for the City and County of San Francisco. The CDO shall be responsible for sharing City data with the public, facilitating the sharing of information between City departments, and analyzing how data sets can be used to improve city decision making. To accomplish these objectives, the CDO shall:

(1) Coordinate utilization, maintenance, and updates of the City’s Open Data website, currently known as “DataSF;”

(2) Oversee the design, adoption by the Committee on Information Technology (COIT) and implementation of technical standards for DataSF to ensure that the portal and its datasets are implemented, updated, and utilized in accordance with San Francisco’s open data policies;

(3) Provide education and analytic tools for City departments to improve and assist with their open data efforts;

(4) Assist departments with compliance with Open Data policies by working with Department Data Coordinators, collecting and reviewing each department’s open data implementation plans and creating a template for the departmental quarterly progress reports;

(5) Present an annual updated citywide implementation plan to COIT, the Mayor, and Board of Supervisors and respond, as necessary, regarding the status of DataSF in the City;

(6) Actively work to further the goals of open data in the City;

(7) Coordinate creation and sharing of internal City data sets outside of those designated for publication on DataSF;

(8) Help establish data standards within and outside the City through collaboration with external organizations;

(9) Assist City departments with analysis of City data sets to improve decision making; and,

(10) Analyze and report on the usage of DataSF.

(b) City Departments

(a) Each City department, board, commission, and agency (“Department”) shall:

(1)Make reasonable efforts to make available all data sets under the Department’s control, provided however, that such disclosure shall be consistent with the rules and standards promulgated by the CDO and adopted by COIT and with applicable law, including laws related to privacy;

(2) Conduct quarterly reviews of their progress on providing access to data sets requested by the public through the designated web portal beginning six months after the appointment of the CDO; and

(3) Designate a Data Coordinator (DC) who will oversee implementation and compliance with the Open Data Policy within his/her respective department. Each DC shall work with the CDO to implement the City’s open data policies and standards. The DC shall:

(i) Prepare an Open Data plan for the Department which shall:

(1) Include a timeline for the publication of the Department’s open data and a summary of open data efforts planned and/or underway in the Department;

(2) Include a summary description of all data sets under the control of each Department (including data contained in already-operating information technology systems);

(3) Prioritize all public data sets for inclusion on DataSF;

(4) Be updated quarterly after the initial submission to the CDO. In the event of unsatisfactory implementation of the plan by the Department and/or disagreement over publication of data sets, the CDO may request the Department’s DC appear before COIT; and,

(5) Be published on the department’s web site in addition to the DataSF site.

(6) Ensure data sets comply with the following requirements:

(ii) Review department data sets for potential inclusion on DataSF and ensure they comply with the following guidelines:

(1) Data prioritized for publication should be of likely interest to the public and should not disclose information that is proprietary, confidential, or protected by law or contract;

(2) Data sets that contain personally identifiable information or represent potential breaches to security or privacy should be flagged for potential exclusion from DataSF; and,

(3) Data sets should be free of charge to the public through the web portal.

(iii) Make data sets available, provided that such disclosure is consistent with the City’s Open Data Policy, technical standards, and with applicable law, including laws related to privacy;

(iv) Catalogue and prioritize the Department’s open data for publication on a quarterly basis;

(v) Appear before COIT and respond to questions regarding the Department’s compliance with the City’s Open Data policies and standards;

(vi) Conspicuously display his/her contact information (including name, phone number or email address) on DataSF with his/her department’s data sets;

(vii) Monitor comments and public feedback on the Department’s data sets on a timely basis;

(viii) Upon receipt of comments or information requests from the public related to data set content and supporting documentation, assess the nature and complexity of the request and provide DT with an expected timeframe to resolve the support inquiry as soon as possible;

(ix) Notify DT upon publication of any updates or corrective action; and,

(x) Notify DT prior to any structural changes to data sets when releasing updated data;

(c) Department of Technology

The Department of Technology (DT) shall provide and manage a single Internet site (web portal) for the City’s public data sets ( or successor site), called “DataSF.” In managing the site, DT shall:

(1) Publish data sets with reasonable, user-friendly registration requirements, license requirements, or restrictions on the use and distribution of data sets;

(2) Indicate data sets that have been recently updated;

(3) Ensure that updated data sets retain the original data structure, i.e., the number of data elements per record, name, formats and order of the data elements must be structurally consistent with the originally approved submission;

(4) Use open, non-proprietary standards when practicable;

(5) Include an on-line forum to solicit feedback from the public and to encourage public discussion on Open Data policies and public data set availability;

(6) Forward open data requests to the assigned DC; and,

(7) Take measures to ensure access to public data sets while protecting DataSF from unlawful abuse or attempts to damage or impair use of the website.


(a) The CDOCOIT shall establish for adoption by COIT rules and standards to implement the open data policy, including developing standards to determine which data sets are appropriate for public disclosure. In making this determination, COIT shall balance the benefits of open data set forth in Section 22D.1, above, with the need to protect from disclosure information that is proprietary, confidential, or protected by law or contract (b) Within 60 days of the effective date of this ordinance, COIT The CDOshall promulgate and COIT shall adopt rules and standards to implement the open data policy which shall apply to all Departments, consistent with COIT’s role and responsibilities in San Francisco Administrative Code Section 22A.3. The CDO and COIT intend to work with CAO and purchaser to develop contract provisions to promote open data policies. The rules and standards shall include the following:

(1) Technical technical requirements for the publishing of public data sets by Departments for the purpose of making public data available to the greatest number of users and for the greatest number of applications. These rules shall, whenever practicable, use non-proprietary technical standards tor web publishing and e-government;

(2) Guidelines guidelines for Departments to follow in developing their plans for implementing the open data policy consistent with the standards established by COIT. Each plan shall include an accounting of public data sets under the control of the Department; and

(3) Rules for including open data requirements in applicable City contracts and standard contract provisions that promote the City’s open data policies, including, where appropriate, provisions to ensure that the City retains ownership of City data and the ability to post the data on or make it available through other means; and,

(4) Requirements that a third party providing City data (or applications based on City data) to the public explicitly identify the source and version of the public data set, and include a description of any modifications made to the public data set.

(c) COIT shall also evaluate the merits and feasibility of making City data sets available pursuant to a generic license, such as those offered by “Creative Commons.” Such a license could grant any user the right to copy, distribute, display and create derivative works at no cost and with a minimum level of conditions placed on the use. If appropriate, COIT shall specify the terms and conditions of such a generic license in the standards it develops it develops to implement the open data policy.

(d) Prior to issuing rules and standards, COIT shall solicit comments from the public, including from individuals and firms who have successfully developed applications using open data sets.

B’more Open: Is Baltimore the new San Francisco?

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake signs executive order creating the city's first open data initiative.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake signs executive order creating the city's first open data initiative.

From open data to open source procurement policy to open311, San Francisco has led the open government way, but with the recent departures of former mayor Gavin Newsom (now California lieutenant governor) and former chief information officer Chris Vein, it looks as if Baltimore is on its way to becoming the new San Francisco.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and new Chief Information Officer Rico Singleton recently announced the city’s first open data initiative, OpenBaltimore (powered by Socrata), to “increase transparency and improve the level of trust between the people and their government.”

On the heels of this announcement, the Baltimore Sun reports Baltimore city council members have proposed drafting a panel of residents to choose candidates for empty seats, giving citizens a direct role in the city’s democratic process.

Rawlings-Blake is even starting to sound like an open government mayor:

“With OpenBaltimore, the city government will begin sharing data with the public in an unprecedented way,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “Innovative and creative people will now be able to collaborate with government, and hopefully find ways to improve service delivery and save money for taxpayers.”

Video of Rawlings-Blake announcing and signing the executive order creating Baltimore’s open data initiative:

While these aren’t ground-breaking initiatives, it shows potential for a city that doesn’t normally get recognized for innovation and technology. This is a great first step.

Let’s hope B’more’s new open government motto is ‘B’more Open.’

Side note: Mayor Rawlings-Blake, if you’re reading, get Baltimore to Code for America.

A vote for open data in San Francisco

Last week’s election brought a new party to power in our nation’s capitol and shook up the political landscape in San Francisco. With Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ascension to Lt. Governor of California there is a job opening in City Hall. His election has officially kicked off a process to name an interim mayor and who it’s going to be has been the buzz of the City for well over a year.

With all the changes happening in the City, it is important to make the open government efforts Mayor Newsom has worked so hard to implement a permanent part of City government.

Last year he issued an Open Data Executive Directive asking City departments to provide data to, the City’s one stop location for government data.  To facilitate continued public access to City government, Mayor Newsom introduced Gov 2.0 legislation earlier this year.

Gov 2.0, Please!

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee took a big Gov 2.0 step forward last month when they voted in favor of Mayor Newsom’s open data legislation and sent it to the full Board with recommendation.  Supervisor Eric Mar and many others have lauded the new policy, highlighting how it will lead to innovation that will improve San Franciscans’ quality of life at no additional cost to taxpayers.

There is already proof of the value of open data in San Francisco.  More than 50 apps, websites and other mash-ups have been created since the launch of in August 2009.  My personal favorite is the EveryBlock service requests feature that rolled out shortly after went live.  EveryBlock built a website that allows visitors to see what people are calling San Francisco’s 311 Customer Service Center about.  Issues are broken down by request type (graffiti, street sweeping, tree maintenance), day, and neighborhood. The site helps visualize what City services San Franciscans are asking for and increases transparency by showing what has been fixed.

Vote for Open Data

Tomorrow, Mayor Newsom’s open data legislation will be in front of the full Board of Supervisors. They have the opportunity to make open data the law in San Francisco.

On the verge of this historic movement, let’s take a look back at how the Gov 2.0 movement started in San Francisco with a tweet to Mayor Newsom about a pothole and where it is going.  Here’s a presentation I gave at U.C. Berkeley last month about open government efforts in San Francisco:

If you support open data sign the twitter petition and if you live in San Francisco contact your supervisor. Then join Gov 2.0 leaders at SF Beta on Tuesday night to hopefully celebrate and talk about the future of

SF Mayor Newsom introduces legislation to open, centralize all city data

While it’s true that November 2nd will help shape the direction of our cities, states and country, this Thursday is also an important date for how government will look like and operate in the future.

On Thursday in San Francisco City Hall legislators will hear open data legislation introduced by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. The legislation if approved would make all non-confidential city data available to the public in one location — — whether it’s crime reports, bus arrival times or street sweeping schedules.

The law would codify an Open Data Executive Directive introduced by Mayor Newsom last year that asked City departments to provide data to the public and make it a permanent fabric of the City.

A Gov 2.0 Movement is Born

The Federal Government launched Data.Gov in 2009 to open government data to the public. With data from Data.Gov, the public can build applications, websites and mash-ups. San Francisco followed President Obama’s lead and launched a local version, a few months later with more than a hundred datasets.

San Francisco City leaders did not know what the public would do with the data, but believed that the public should have easy access to their data and that the City’s innovative citizens would build programs to bring government into the 21st Century.

Government as a Platform

Just weeks after the launch, new apps and websites started popping up. Developers built programs to help City residents find out when a bus was arriving, where to recycle hazaderous materials and show crime patterns in the city — all from data available on

Since the launch of there have been more than fifty apps created from the City’s data with many more in the works. But, this is just the beginning of Gov 2.0 in San Francisco and hopefully throughout the country. San Francisco legislators have the opportunity to create a whole new generation of civic leaders by making open data official policy in the City by the Bay.

If you support open data sign the online twitter petition and if you live in San Francisco show up for the fun on Thursday.

An open source union movement

Earlier this year, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom ignited an open source movement in government when the city approved the nation’s first open source software policy. Now, another movement — labor may be getting behind this effort. I have been asked to speak with Local 21 of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE/AFL-CIO) today about Gov 2.0 initiatives I helped lead for Newsom and why unions should embrace open source technology.

Open source saves union jobs

San Francisco’s legislation came about from a combination of factors, but the primary one was the City wanted to save money without laying off employees. Reducing the millions of dollars that were being spent on software licensing fees and other proprietary software was a no brainer for city leaders facing a half a billion-dollar budget deficit.

The first-of-its-kind policy requires that open source be considered equally to commercial products when buying new software. Instead of paying software-licensing fees year after year, under the direction of the City’s CIO, Chris Vein, and the Department of Technology the City opted to train employees with new skills.

San Francisco decided to invest in people and a new open source government.

It all started with a tweet

Last week, former Local 21 President Richard Isen (an app developer for the City of San Francisco) and I were talking about what I should talk about later today. He reminded me how the open source movement in San Francisco government started with a tweet.

Eighteen months ago, Mayor Newsom was at Twitter headquarters for a conversation about technology in government. During the town hall Newsom received a tweet about a pothole. He turned to Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams and said let’s find a way for people to tweet their service requests directly to San Francisco’s 311 customer service center.

Three months later, San Francisco launched the first Twitter 311 service, @SF311 allowing residents to tweet, text, and send photos of potholes and other requests directly to the City. As it turns out, Isen was the app developer on the project.

Working with Twitter and using the open source platform, CoTweet Isen turned @SF311 into reality. Normally, the software procurement process for something like this would have taken months. Instead from idea to implementation it took less than three months. Oh and the latest reports show @SF311 is saving the city money in call center costs.

Security in open source

Craig of Craigslist always reminds me when talking about open source to highlight the added security and stability of open source over proprietary software. I won’t get into it here but I recommend reading Sun Microsystems President & COO Bill Vass’ blog about the topic, “The No. 1 Reason to Move to Open Source is to IMPROVE Security.”

Unions for open source

Since the launch of @SF311, San Francisco has continued to utilize open source software to expand city services while reducing costs and implementation times from to the first national API for government. Meanwhile, open source legislation has spread from California to Vermont.

Unions should join the Gov 2.0 effort and make the open source movement their own. Demanding that more local governments pass open source legislation will save taxpayers money and protect union jobs.

SF launches PolicySF to help governments share ideas

The City of San Francisco has launched PolicySF, a Website to ‘help communities share good ideas with one another.’ The site provides ‘policy toolkits’ with FAQs, processes, sample policy documents and ordinances on SF-specific initiatives. Other governments can also share their ideas.

Initial toolkits includes Healthy SF, Plastic Bag, SF Promise, JobsNowSF! and Open Data.

SF Mayor Gavin Newsom video announcement: