Frequently Asked Questions

See answers to frequently asked questions about Civic Commons below.  If you have a question that’s not addressed here, feel free to ask us.

What is Civic Commons’ mission?

To help governments provide better services and save money by sharing their investments in technology.

What’s your funding/sustainability model?

In spring 2011, Civic Commons received its first major foundation grant, from the Omidyar Network. In the near term, we will sustain our efforts through foundation support. Over time, we will work towards a diversified funding model, ideally one that recover some small portion of the value created by Civic Commons’ efforts.

How is Civic Commons structured as an organization now?  Is that planned to change?

Civic Commons is a joint initiative of Code for America and OpenPlans, with in-kind support from O’€™Reilly Media and grant support from the Omidyar Network.  Civic Commons is currently operating under the umbrella of Code for America’s 501(c)(3), and may eventually become an independent nonprofit.

So, Civic Commons is like the Apache/Mozilla/Kuali foundation for government, right?

There are many kinds of open technology organizations. Software foundations like the Apache Foundation and the Software Freedom Conservancy provide certain useful functions to opens source software projects (such as copyright & trademark management, handling of funds, and hosting & collaboration infrastructure).  At the time of this writing, Civic Commons does not offer those kinds of services for government-oriented software projects, but it is possible that we may provide those types of services in the future, should the demand arise and should Civic Commons seem to be in the right position to do so.

What is Civic Commons’ governance model?

In its initial state, Civic Commons is operating as an internal program of Code for America, in partnership with OpenPlans.  Civic Commons is ultimately responsible to the Code for America board of directors, and has a small permanent staff, led by Andrew McLaughlin (Executive Director) and Nick Grossman (Managing Director).  Civic Commons may eventually become a fully independent nonprofit organization with its own board, but has chosen not to pursue that direction in order to focus on program work.  At this time, Civic Commons does not provide or structure governance of any kind for individual software projects.

Is Civic Commons only interested in open source software?

While Civic Commons is a vocal proponent of open source software, our work does not only focus on open source. We promote openness of various kinds: open data and APIs, open standards, and shared software of all kinds.

How can I add my software project “into the commons”?

Right now, there are two ways: 1) visit our “share an app” page and fill out a short form, and 2) visit the wiki page on Civic Software, and edit the page to include your tools (this requires creating an account at the wiki).  Applications that are submitted via the form and via the wiki will be included in the “Commons” website that we’re currently developing.

You can also work directly with Civic Commons to support the development of your application.  Visit the Engaging with Civic Commons page for more information.

I think this is cool. How can I help?

There are several ways you can get involved with Civic Commons activities.  Simply joining our discussion forum or contributing to the wiki are two easy ways to start.  As we develop our programs further, we’ll be articulating more and more ways to be involved.  If you have ideas or suggestions for how Civic Commons can work with you or others, please let us know.

You didn’t answer my question!

Sorry about that.  Please ask it here or leave a question in the comments and we’ll answer.