OSS Procurement FAQ: Part 4

From my research with government technical staff, I discovered that strictly speaking, there are not many issues that are truly “unknown.” Usually, the case is that the issue has at least has been experienced by government staff, but no best practice has clearly emerged. And then, sometimes it is not the issue that is unknown, [...]

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

New York City Bus Tracking: Procuring for an Open Architecture

Real-time bus tracking is one of civic technology’s easier calls. No one likes guessing when next bus will come: “Do I need to run for it?”, “Do I have time to duck into that corner store and get a newspaper?”, etc. So people immediately grasp the benefit of being able to ask their smartphone where [...]

5 Comments Continue Reading →


We interrupt this stream of civic tech nerdery to bring you a few bits of news about Civic Commons, the organization. In short, I’m moving on (to join Tumblr), and Nick Grossman is moving up (to be Executive Director). Since April, I’ve been serving as the start-up executive director for Civic Commons. When we kicked [...]

5 Comments Continue Reading →

Learning the way to government – My Fellowship experience

Code for America Fellow Michelle Koeth wrote a great blog on her fellowship experience and about how she came to spend her fellowship with us here at Civic Commons. As I was packing up my work notes, thumb drives, and books a few weekends ago to fly back home, and consequently being flooded with memories [...]

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Civic Engagement App, Change By Us, Enters the Commons

As cities are facing growing demands and shrinking resources, they have to find new ways of solving problems. Change by Us, a new digital platform that enables citizens to collaborate on projects for city improvement themselves, is a promising model of a new kind of civic engagement. Launched in New York City earlier this year, [...]

1 Comment Continue Reading →

OSS Procurement FAQ: Part 3

In-house development. This phrase can often give developers a sense of freedom while also causing panic. Sure, there’s the basic activities of requirements gathering, development, testing, and deployment, no matter what development process or technology you plan to use. But, beyond that, then what? With the time crunch to get an app built, many government [...]

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

Crowdsourcing Civic Infrastructure

Across America, the challenges facing city governments are growing ever more complex, while city budgets are tightening. At the same time, the internet has made it cheaper and easier for elected officials to communicate with their constituents. This made us think: What if cities started using the internet to organize citizen volunteers? If executed properly, [...]

4 Comments Continue Reading →

Budget Transparency & Visualization Tool, Look at Cook, Open Sourced

Earlier this year, Cook County released “Look at Cook,” a budget visualization tool to help citizens understand how the county spends taxpayer dollars. As the site says, residents “keep asking, ‘Where exactly does our money go?’” Look at Cook attempts to help answer that question with spending breakdowns by area and year, as well as [...]

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

OSS Procurement FAQ: Part 2 Boo!

It’s Halloween, and while some procurement issues can be quite dry, I figured for part 2, we could take on a more festive and spooky theme focusing on some edge cases discussed by some of the government staff I interviewed. As scary as some might sound, as edge cases, they are not the most frequently [...]

Leave a comment Continue Reading →

VanRoekel Calls for Lean, “Future First” Federal IT Agenda

The nation’s new Federal CIO Steve VanRoekel unveiled on Tuesday his “Future First” agenda, which emphasized the need to change the way government procures software and sets policy: In the end, we can’t build a 21st century government without fundamentally changing how we invest in technology. Traditionally, it has taken years for an IT solution to move [...]

Leave a comment Continue Reading →