1. An Open Government Tree Grows in NY Governor’s Office

    Yesterday, NY Governor Cuomo announced that OPEN NY is going to be a part of his government! 

    The Open NY meetup isn’t going to become a state agency, but our ideas and advocacy are going to become OUR STATE’S initiative to promote transparency, improvement government performance, and increase avenues of digital participation.

    How did this happen? 

    In the middle of 2010, representatives from Reinvent Albany reached out to Open NY Forum looking for pioneering civic technology and open government leaders. After two months of back and forth, we presented the prospective governor with a thick policy brief. Ripe with ideas from cities and other governments across America, we got the prospective Governor Cuomo to mention an “Open NY” project in his “reinventing Albany papers.” Together, Reinvent Albany and Open NY, had hoped something would be implemented within the first 90 days of the new Cuomo administration. 

    Those days turned into months. Months turned into a year. A year turned into two. All along the way, we met with State technology leaders urging them to adopt our policy ideas, and to continue to have New York lead the nation in progressive government. 

    Yesterday, we finally got what we worked so hard toward. 

    Now, the challenging part begins. We need to ensure this seed grows in to a strong vibrant trunk.

    If you want to ensure that NY has the best open government implementation, join us and become a member of the Open NY Forum and help us make a better New York.

    From page 201, in NY Govenor’s State Of the State Briefing. (PDF Link)

    Create OPEN NY: Using Technology to Promote Transparency, Improve Government Performance, and Enhance Citizen Engagement

    Open New York, a coordinated, technology-based initiative, will harness this potential to use technology to increase government efficiency, performance and collaboration as we enter a new era of public participation in government. Our state government possesses vast treasure troves of valuable information and reports: from health, business and public safety data to information on parks, recreation, labor, and transportation. Too often, this information is in government file cabinets, or in documents that aren’t electronically searchable, or scattered throughout state agencies and their websites.

    Open New York will provide easy, single-stop access to statewide and agency-level data, reports, statistics, compilations and information. Data will be presented in a common, downloadable, easy-to-access format, and will be searchable and mappable. The Open New York web portal will allow researchers, citizens, business and the media direct access to high-value data, which will be continually added to and expanded, so these groups can use the data to innovate for the benefit of all New Yorkers. “App competitions” will enlist the collective genius of our state’s students and tech community by asking them to develop practical uses for state data. Budget data, which is already posted online, will be posted in machine readable and graphical formats, making access easier and more impactful for citizens and researchers alike. Through Open New York, technology will bring government and the people together to build a New New York.

    Open New York will reap substantial benefits, both through cost savings and improvements in government accountability and collaboration. Providing detailed spending and budget information allows government employees and the public to locate inefficiencies and duplicate expenses. Putting government data online also reduces the expenses associated with producing paper documents in response to Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) requests. Benefits come not only from direct use of the data, but also from the return on investment that comes when private citizens and journalists use data to generate useful apps and to evaluate government performance. Quick and efficient data access can also be useful in disaster response and preparation. The benefits of increased online transparency significantly outweigh the costs of putting information online.

    New Yorkers want to know their government is investing taxpayer money efficiently in programs and services that are performing for all New Yorkers. It is government’s responsibility to provide information to the people it serves through affirmative disclosures. This initiative will build the trust between state government and New Yorkers. Transparency can be driven through technical solutions that the State is committed to deploying with the resources available through the Internet. Above all, Open New York will put a powerful tool for transparency, accountability, and innovation in the hands of New Yorkers and people all around the world through a centralized user-friendly interface.

    Join the Open NY Forum on Meetup or on Twitter.