DC Announces Open Data Initiative

The District’s Open Data push delivers on the Mayor’s commitment to utilize technology to innovate, increase transparency and improve accountability across government

By Mary Velan

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a groundbreaking new Open Data initiative and announced Archana Vemulapalli as the new Chief Technology Officer for the District.

“The District has become a mecca for social innovation and technology – and the Office of Chief Technology Officer is instrumental in building that capacity within our government,” said Mayor Bowser. “Archana Vemulapalli is the person to keep the District on the cutting edge of technology and enhance the service delivery for District agencies and residents.”

New Draft Policy
The District’s Open Data push delivers on the Mayor’s commitment to utilize technology to innovate, increase transparency and improve accountability across government.  As part of the push, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) has created drafts.dc.gov which includes a draft Open Data Policy that the public, tech activists and government officials can provide their feedback on for the next four weeks. The policy will be updated yearly.

The new draft policy calls for:

  • Hiring a new Chief Data Officer at OCTO
  • Partnering with the community to launch an Independent, Regional Data Catalog
  • Launching an Open Source Program
  • Reviving the Open Government Advisory Board

Once adopted, the Data Policy will modernize and significantly expand the District’s central data catalog allowing the public, media, entrepreneurs and academics greater access data, from information on traffic patterns to invaluable health statistics. For the first time, DC Government will also have a centralized home where agencies can share code openly and proactively encourage public participation in the development of its technology, paving that new path for collaboration and innovation.

“The information we gather collectively with the input from residents and stakeholders helps us learn from our successes and shortcomings, and plan for the future,” said Mayor Bowser. “When we share our knowledge with District residents, we are more effective – and more powerful. With this policy, we will make the District one of the most open jurisdictions in the country.”

Mayor Bowser also revived the DC Open Government Advisory Group, which will be a forum for direct feedback from stakeholders. Advisory committee will include representatives from eight District agencies and eight Public Members, which are Robert Becker, Kathryn Pettit, Justin Grimes, Shannon Turner, Aliya Rahman, Joshua Tauberer, Clarence Wardell and Sandra Moscoso.

The open data initiative is part of a Bowser Administration effort to expand the use and accessibility of data throughout government. The Metropolitan Police Department began publishing topline crime stats every business day. In addition, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development launched an Economic Intelligence Dashboard, an open-source economic data tool to drive positive change and build good government for DC residents, particularly on DC’s economic development priorities.

About Drafts.dc.gov
Drafts.dc.gov is a tool to help residents collaborate with government on draft legislation, regulation, and policy. It’s run in partnership between the DC Council, the Executive Office of the Mayor, the OCTO Technology Innovation Program, and The OpenGov Foundation.

Drafts.dc.gov runs on The OpenGov Foundation’s Madison platform. Madison is a government policy co-creation platform that opens up laws and legislation previously off-limits to individuals and the Internet community. With Madison, users can access policy as it’s being written, leave comments, annotate specific content, and interact with other civic-minded participants. Madison brings the policymaking process straight to you, and gives users a say in DC government’s decisions.

How it works:

  • Sign up and create a username.
  • Verify your email address in the confirmation message emailed to you.
  • Locate a document by browsing through titles, filtering by sponsor, or searching for keywords.
  • Annotate, comment on, and support or oppose the document.

When users support or oppose a document, enter a comment, or annotate a specific section of a work in progress, the document’s sponsor receives an electronic notification. All interaction with documents on Drafts.dc.gov will provide sponsors with valuable feedback on how residents feel about their proposals, and they may even choose to incorporate suggested edits straight into their documents.

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