Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data


  • Bad choices, good reasons

    Bad choices, good reasons

    Sometimes government make poor technology decisions for good and entirely rational reasons. Understand this dynamic is important for those of us working to make government adoption of technology more successful. Continue reading

  • What Lies Beneath

    Procurement challenges don’t end when a government agency selects a vendor to fulfill a contract. In many ways, they are just beginning. If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the world of civic tech for the last 5–10 years then you don’t need to be told that one of the major challenges to… 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

  • Why 18F’s New Approach to Procurement Reform Matters

    In another recent post, I talked about how public sector technology procurement was not well suited for the digital age. But there are some efforts underway that seek to identify new methods of procuring technology solutions for government. As these ideas start to take hold, there is hope that those in the govtech community will create a… Continue reading

  • GovTech is Not Broken

    When we talk about the challenges that face governments in acquiring and implementing new technology, the conversation eventually winds around to the procurement process. That’s when things usually get ugly. “It’s broken,” they say. “It just doesn’t work.” What most people who care about this issue fail to recognize, however, is that while the procurement… Continue reading

  • On Barriers to Adopting New Technologies

    Interesting story in the Washington Post describing a survey of federal government technology managers. The big takeaway from this survey seems to be that the majority of IT managers are enthusiastic about new technology and can see how it helps them do their jobs more effectively, but they question the government’s ability to keep pace… Continue reading

  • Hacking the RFI Process

    The Seattle Police Department recently held a hackathon. When the event was initially announced, there was a fair bit of skepticism in the civic technology community with more than a few people stating that the event would likely not be a productive one, for either the Seattle Police or those that chose to attend. I… Continue reading

  • What if We’re Doing it Wrong?

    Ever since the botched launch of, procurement reform has become the rallying cry of the civic technology community. There is now considerable effort being expended to reimagine the ways that governments obtain technology services from private sector vendors, with an emphasis being placed on new methods that make it easier for governments to engage… Continue reading

  • Built to Fail

    The great truism that underlies the civic technology movement of the last several years is that governments face difficulty implementing technology, and they generally manage IT assets and projects very poorly. It can be tempting to view this lack of technology acumen as a symptom of a larger disfunction. Governments are thought to be large,… Continue reading

  • Five Ways to Make Government Procurement Better

    Nothing in recent memory has focused attention on the need for wholesale reform of the government IT procurement system more than the troubled launch of There has been a myriad of blog posts, stories and articles written in the last few weeks detailing all of the problems that led to the ignominious launch of… 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.