Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data

Civic Tech

  • On Unbecoming a Hotshot

    My four-year anniversary at my current job snuck up on me a few weeks back. It’s not an anniversary I have a lot of experience with — it’s been a while since I worked somewhere for four years in a row. My professional career has taken me on an interesting journey, and I’ve bounced around… Continue reading

  • Virtuous Roadblocks and Digital Service Delivery

    If Men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and… Continue reading

  • Filling up the Civic Tech Toolbox

    It’s sort of a cliche to say it these days, but digital transformation in government is largely not about technology.  It seems like this is an idea that has broad consensus, but much of the work that gets done in and around government technology modernization still views problems solely through the lens of technology. What… Continue reading

  • Amplifying Administrative Burden

    How Poor Technology Choices Can Magnify the Challenges Faced by Those Seeing Government Services For every 10 people who said they successfully filed for unemployment benefits during the previous four weeks three to four additional people tried to apply but could not get through the system to make a claim. Two additional people did not… Continue reading

  • Process Eats Culture for Breakfast

    Famed management consultant Peter Drucker is often credited with the phrase “culture eats process for breakfast.” You can’t change organizations by implementing new processes alone, so the thinking goes, you have to foster a new culture in order to drive real change. To understand the degree to which this idea is accepted as management philosophy… Continue reading

  • Towards Ethical Algorithms

    Old tools & new challenges for governments There is a common misconception that data-driven decision making and the use of complex algorithms are a relatively recent phenomenon in the public sector. In fact, making use of (relatively) large data sets and complex algorithms has been fairly common in government for at least the past few… Continue reading

  • Driving Innovation Beyond The Big City

    In late 2014, I had a chance to present on the main stage at the annual Code for America Summit in San Francisco. To the surprise of very few people, I was there to talk about cities and data. Earlier that year, I had finished up my term as the first Chief Data Officer for… Continue reading

  • Read My Book

    Late last year, I wrote a book devoted to civic hacking based on my experience working in state and local government, and inside civic tech communities. It’s a book meant for public servants and people working inside government who want to connect with innovators and technologists outside of the bureaucracy. The premise is simple –… Continue reading

  • Building the Engine of Change

    The term “civic tech” gets used a lot, and it often means different things to different people. To me, this has always meant that the work being done in this area is dynamic, growing, and evolving rapidly – all good things that suggest the impact of civic technology will ultimately be broad and durable. I’ve… Continue reading

  • Meeting in the Middle

    There’s an interesting piece on open data APIs on GovTech that echos a lot of the things I’ve thought and said about government APIs over the past few years. It’s worth a read. APIs are an increasingly important way that governments make their open data available to outside users. Typically, when we talk about open… Continue reading

About Me

I am the former Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia. I also served as Director of Government Relations at Code for America, and as Director of the State of Delaware’s Government Information Center. For about six years, I served in the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS), and helped pioneer their work with state and local governments. I also led platform evangelism efforts for TTS’ cloud platform, which supports over 30 critical federal agency systems.