STATEMENT FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
February 9th, 2017
Mary Kate Mezzetti
email@example.com | +1 (508) 776-2789
WASHINGTON, DC (February 9th, 2017) — The OpenGov Foundation today released the following statement from Executive Director Seamus Kraft on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruling that allows private standards organizations to continue restricting public access to critical elements of the public law. The federal court decision against Public.Resource.Org, long-time advocates for the public’s right to know the laws under which they must live, upheld a copyright claim by private parties over the critical components of the public safety laws of the United States— public safety laws such as building codes, fire codes and electrical codes:
“Everyone should agree that the code of law is the bedrock of American society. Our country is governed by laws, not men-and certainly not private companies. In fact, our country was founded on the principle that everyone has a right to know the law, to access it freely, debate it and engage with it where they want and how they want. Any artificial barriers or restrictions or paywalls erected between citizens and their own laws erode our most basic civil rights, undercut our democracy and must be removed by any means necessary.
“The U.S. District Court could have decided to strengthen public access to the law. It could have removed a patently artificial barrier standing between citizens and their right to know the law. It could have secured a basic civil right for all Americans. It did not.
“Make no mistake: this copyright catastrophe will end soon enough, whether through the courts or Congressional action. Smart leaders of private standards bodies should recognize that reality and acknowledge that public safety is everybody’s business, that public safety codes created by thousands of dedicated volunteers are meant to be the law, and that rationing access to the law is not only anti-democratic, but harms public safety.”
CONTACT: Mary Kate Mezzetti, firstname.lastname@example.org | +1-508-776-2789
WASHINGTON, DC (January 23, 2017) — The OpenGov Foundation today released the following statement from Executive Director Seamus Kraft on the news that Matt Cutts has been appointed to serve as Acting Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) in the Trump Administration. Cutts had been serving as director of engineering for the USDS under President Barack Obama while on temporary leave from a senior position at Google:
“Matt Cutts is one of the best and the brightest engineers to ever serve in the United States Government. As Washington transitions to a new Administration, Matt’s promotion to Acting Administrator of the USDS is a tremendously positive signal to all those building a better federal government with better technology, data and design: now more than ever, your country needs your talents, creativity and passion for creating modern government that works better for all Americans.
“Cutts’ appointment underscores that the transformational efforts begun under President Obama are working and must continue. Out-dated and paper-based systems, poor public access and service, inefficient bureaucracy, rampant beltway banditry, billions of taxpayer dollars wasted on bad tech every year— these are endemic government problems that know no party affiliation. They must be confronted head-on by the best talent our country has to offer, inside and outside government. Half-hearted half-measures that speak to only half our country won’t cut it, and will only further today’s broken status quo.”
In a blog post announcing the promotion, Cutts linked to a December 2016 USDS report to Congress on what the service has accomplished since forming in August 2014. He also posted the following recruitment video aimed at inspiring other technologists to step away from profit-driven private-sector work for a period of public service.
“With Matt Cutts at the helm of USDS, with Gerrit Lansing assuming a top tech role in the White House, and with leaders like Robin Carnahan and Dave Zvenyach and more continuing in senior roles at the General Services Administration and across the federal government, we already have some of the best our nation has to offer signed up and serving. Yet a vast amount of work remains, with success demanding an equally significant investment from those of us on the outside. Private-sector tech companies, non-profit tech teams like ours, funders, academic institutions all must step up to support those doing the incredibly difficult work on the inside.
“Now is the worst possible time to walk away from the civic arena. Right now, quitting or hand-wringing— whether as a funder or investor or software developer— means giving up and giving in. That will never happen here at The OpenGov Foundation. And if folks like Matt, Robin, Gerrit and Dave remain committed to building 21st Century governments that work, I am confident that those on the outside with the talents, the time and the funding America needs will continue to step up at this critical time in our nation’s history.”
Executive Director Seamus Kraft & Head of Product Aaron Ogle to Participate in Panel Discussion, Collaboration on Madison
PARIS, FRANCE (December 8th, 2016)– Commencing on December 7th, Open Government leaders from 70 countries will gather in Paris, France to demonstrate and discuss their experiences over the past year as part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative. The Partnership was founded in 2011 as part of a United Nations initiative to promote transparency and strengthen technology in order to advance governments internationally. The eight founding governments have grown to 70 in 2016.
Executive Director Seamus Kraft will participate in two discussions during the Summit, the first titled: “Liberty, Equality, Data: How to Build Participatory Communities that Deliver.” WSJ Social Media Editor Natalie Andrews will moderate the panel set to discuss barriers to open government participation, and steps to create and maintain productive partnerships and communities. The second discussion, “Remix to Reform,” will be lead by Stephen Larrick of the Sunlight Foundation and will highlight several open resources, including The OpenGov Foundation’s America Decoded/State Decoded project.
Head of Product Aaron Ogle will participate in the OGP Toolbox Hackathon during the Summit to discuss how to improve The OpenGov Foundation’s Madison Project. Ogle has a few specific goals in mind to discuss with other developers to explore releasing a version for the French Administration.
If you’re an early riser watch Executive Director Kraft on Friday, December 9th from 4:45 AM EST-6:05 AM EST and 8:00 AM EST-9:20 AM EST and explore other discussions taking place (all will be available by live stream).
WHAT: Open Government Partnership 2016 Summit
WHO: Executive Director Seamus Kraft, Head of Product Aaron Ogle & International Open Government Leaders
WHEN: December 7th-9th, 2016
WHERE: Paris, France
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Send your questions, issues to bring up, anything you would like discussed to us on Twitter (@FoundOpenGov, @SeamusKraft or @ATOgle), via email (SayHello@opengovfoundation.org) or join the Twitter conversation directly using the hashtag #OGP16Summit
Mary Kate Mezzetti
email@example.com | +1-508-776-2789
The OpenGov Foundation’s Executive Director to Address American Association of Law Library’s National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials at Boston University Law School
BOSTON, MA (December 2, 2016) — As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer writes, “If a law isn’t public, it isn’t a law.” Yet across America, the vast majority of state, county and local public laws and legal codes are not close to publicly accessible, locked away from the public under copyright restrictions and poll-tax-style paywalls. This is a serious, growing problem for free, functional government and violates the fundamental right of all Americans to know the laws under which they live.
Today, at 3:30 PM time as part of National Conference on Copyright of State and Legal Materials, The OpenGov Foundation’s (OGF) Executive Director Seamus Kraft will share how we are curing the copyright cancer: with a unique combination of cutting-edge data science, policy development and collaborative efforts with the U.S. Congress and Free Law Founders coalition of state, local and county governments. The OGF’s work— from modernizing local laws and legal codes to developing model copyright of law reform legislation— to build a world where the public has the best possible access to every single law, legal code, rule and regulation was recognized by the American Library Association with the 2016 James Madison Award for championing, protecting and promoting public access to government information and the public’s right to know at the national level.
What: The National Conference on Copyright and State Legal Materials
Who: Executive Director Seamus Kraft, Emily Frentren, Director of Government Relations, American Association of Law Libraries, Kris Kasianovitz, Government Information Librarian, State, Local and International Documents, Stanford University Libraries
Where: Boston University Law School, Boston, MA
When: Friday December 2nd, 3:30 PM
How to Watch: The discussion will be recorded and posted after the fact. Follow @FoundOpenGov on Twitter to get the video, or contact The OGF directly.
Contact: Mary Kate Mezzetti | firstname.lastname@example.org | +1-508-776-2789
Emily Feltren | email@example.com | +1-312-205-8010
The Naperville City Council adopted an open data policy to guide the City’s release of public data. The first release under this new open data plan is a Public Safety Incident Map.
“The only thing that can jeopardize the progress made over the last 8 years when this community became [something] and grew up, is for those who created that progress to walk away and then to not have that extended hand to those coming in after.” -Executive Director Seamus Kraft
On Friday November 18th Politico convened a critical conversation on what it will take to continue upgrading Washington as the next administration takes office. Panelists included Seamus Kraft, Executive Director of The OpenGov Foundation, Tony Scott, U.S. Chief Information Officer, Phaedra Chrousos, Chief Innovation Officer of the Libra Group and recently departed leader of 18F, as well as Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer. The discussion explored the future of President Obama’s signature technology programs and achievements, the new cast of tech and innovation policy influencers, and the broader implications of the recent election for govtech, civic tech and open government efforts across the United States, and globally.
“Bad software, bad data, bad process– that knows no party affiliation and I think that’s where the new administration starts…The new administration–regardless of how you felt about the election results–needs you just as much as President Obama needed you.” – @FoundOpenGov Executive Director Seamus Kraft
“We will take this baton and hand it off as well as we possibly can. [The President] is committed to the best transition… for the next administration”- @USCTO Megan Smith
“It’s going to be very experimental and very messy in the beginning until you can figure out what works, and once you do then you can take those things and scale them” -@PhaedraChrousos, Libra Group Chief Innovation Officer
“I know that a lot of people are watching and anxiously awaiting, and me too, but I think it’s a little early to make any prediction about which way things go.” – @TonyScottCIO, U.S. Chief Information Officer
“We’ve got to stay engaged — I don’t think it’s even an option,” U.S. CIO Tony Scott said.
By: Samantha Ehlinger, November 18th, 2016
In the face of continuous rumors and uncertainty around what tech projects and people may last or leave during President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, experts Friday, including U.S. CIO Tony Scott, sought to pitch the Obama administration’s technology progress as non-partisan.
“Some of our biggest supporters and fans have actually been on the Republican side [of Congress] during this administration, so I hope that spirit continues and I expect that it will,” Scott said Friday at a Politico event.
When questioned about staying if he were asked back, Scott said “I think it depends.”
His remarks on the subject seemed to suggest that he might consider it if the administration continues in a similar direction with its technology-related efforts.
“I’m really excited about the momentum that we’ve got going, and if it looks like that’s something that makes sense,” he said. “One way or the other, first you’ve got to be asked — nobody’s asked yet.”
Scott then urged technologists to stay engaged.
“We’ve got to stay engaged — I don’t think it’s even an option,” Scott said. “If you care about our country, if you care about how government works, the credibility of our institutions, government being one of the key ones, you gotta stay engaged in this space, there’s just no backing away I don’t think.”
Phaedra Chrousos, now chief innovation officer of Libra Group and a founder of the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service during her time in government, said people have been asking her for advice on staying or leaving government.
“I’ve been getting a lot of people coming to me and asking ‘Should I stick around?’ And I’ve been telling people, ‘Go where you think you will make the most impact,’” she said. “That’s just my general philosophy.”
But Chrousos also seemed to be preparing the crowd Friday at the Newseum to see some changes. She noted the younger technologists in government move jobs fairly quickly in the private sector, and that mobility is normal and
should be acknowledged.
“We have to remember that this is a younger generation of techies that
move through the ecosystem, through the private sector pretty quickly,” she said. “And they’re going to move through the ecosystem that’s been created now in the civic tech movement. You might get an 18F-er that then goes to [Department of Justice], then the digital service team, or goes to Code For America, or goes to start a civic tech company or work at a civic tech incubator.”
She added: “And I think that we need to realize that’s the reality that we’re faced with, and that we should try and enable that mobility rather than keep people in more traditional structures.”
This movement, she said, isn’t a problem as long as there is continuity in knowledge management, “and you can pass the baton along.”
“I think a fresh set of eyes is always important,” she said. “And I think the more people move around the more they’ll gain a really holistic perspective of the government.”
Chrousos predicted the younger digital transformation government technology community might see some movement, just as the Government Digital Service in the United Kingdom has seen its people move to different ministries, and to state and local governments.
U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, in remarks later during the event, also seemed to imply that many in the technology community are interested in state and local work.
In response to a questions of whether pitching those in Silicon Valley to work for government would be more difficult during a Trump administration, Smith said: “I think people are open to doing this, and that they’re excited about doing this in all of the different places. You know there’s state and local, there’s Code For America, there’s external open gov, there’s so many organizations now.”
When she was later asked to elaborate specifically on working for a Trump administration, Smith noted many technologist positions were not set up as political positions.
“So these people are excited about the work that they’re doing, they’re committed to it, they’re doing it and so it’s exciting to see them committed into that work,” she said.
Seamus Kraft, executive director of the OpenGov Foundation and a former Republican congressional staffer, noted that this time is “a beautiful opportunity to put the real core values of civic technology and open government gov tech, whatever hashtag you want to put in front of it, to the test.”
He noted that many government technology problems are not tied to a party.
“But bad software, bad data, bad process — that knows no party affiliation, and I think that’s where the new administration starts,” he said. “The biggest risk to the progress going away though, is those who’ve created it, and who are here right now, some of them in this room, walking away right now. And the next administration, no matter how you felt about the election result, needs you just as much as President Obama needed you and called you out.”
He noted that the new administration needs, at a minimum, perspective from past feds so they know what state everything is in.
“I think that a lot of these issues haven’t been on the Trump team’s list,” Kraft admitted, but added, “I do know that there are some good people just starting to get in to place right now, who need to talk to everybody who’s here right now, who’s created these projects.”
The futures of some of those programs, like 18F or the U.S. Digital Service, however, are still uncertain. But Kraft noted that, “The promise of 18F really wasn’t going to be tested until an administration changed.”
Chrousos mentioned the tweet on Friday: “That was a great sign to all of us that this is a non-partisan issue.”
But when it comes to retaining the workforce, it’s common knowledge that many technologists lean left, and Kraft did acknowledge that the pool of technologists who share common ideologies with the new administration is small. Kraft noted that programs like 18F, USDS and the Sunlight Foundation are slowly removing the need for partisan affiliation in this kind of work.
Chrousos said “people don’t join the Peace Corps because they’re Republican or Democrat, or because Trump’s in office or Obama’s in office.”
“They join because they want to do some good, serve their time,” she said. “And I think we need to get to the point where this is not a Democratic movement — this is a good for government, patriotic movement, regardless
of party affiliation.”
Scott said after talking to “hundreds of people,” what motivates them is “solving big, hard problems.”
“And that’s what gets people up in the morning and gets them going, and to the extent we can work on that problem set, I think you’re going to get the best America has to offer,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a party issue.”
Technologists under the Obama administration have worked on some problems that could be perceived as partisan, but Scott urged people to avoid letting “the micro dominate the macro.”
“We get challenges in Veteran’s Administration, in IRS, in the Department of the Interior,” he said. “I mean there’s no agency of the federal government or anything that it does that isn’t without its challenges. So maybe priorities shift among certain areas, maybe one thing goes away, but there’s tons of other sort of opportunities. So it might be a problem in a micro case but I think in the macro there’s lots of stuff to do.”
And when it comes to what priorities from this administration will continue, Scott noted that nobody has been saying open source or open data efforts should stop.
“I think the question really is, what else on top of that gets done? Or how does the direction shift at all?” he said. “And I don’t think anybody knows that yet. I think it’s a little bit premature to sort of make that call.”
Scott also said the “digitization march is inevitable.”
“And really the only question is: How fast is it gonna go?” he said. “Does this next administration accelerate or not put an emphasis on it? And again I think it’s too early to tell.”