Monthly Archives: May 2014

NYC Councilmember Ben Kallos Unlocks 7 Key Bills in Madison for Online Citizen Drafting

For the first time ever, New Yorkers can log on and legislate to create smarter municipal laws that work for them

May 29, 2014

New York, NY – New York City Councilmember Ben Kallos today released seven key government reform bills for online public debate and drafting in Madison, a free policymaking platform developed by the nonprofit OpenGov Foundation. Madison gives citizens direct access to their legislators and the legislative process itself, lowering the barrier between citizens and their government on their own time, and on their own terms. Councilmember Kallos is the second city legislator in America to harness the power of collaborative Internet-based legislating, joining Washington, D.C. Councilmember David Grosso on the cutting edge of American democracy.  To get involved, New Yorkers simply need to log on to start legislating in partnership with Kallos.

 

Madison-Explainer-Video-Screen-Shot

WATCH: Madison Gives You A Direct Voice in Your Government

“The law belongs to the people that it governs,” said Councilmember Kallos. “This is government 2.0. Bringing legislation to the public means putting it online, because in the 21st Century, public = online. I am committed to empowering New Yorkers to draft and improve upon legislation on Madison because at the end of the day, they are the ones who live with it. I look forward to a future where legislators harness technology to bring government to the people.”

Kallos’ seven bills opened for public, online drafting in Madison include the:

 

“A free and open New York City depends on free, open and fully-accessible city information,” said Seamus Kraft, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The OpenGov Foundation.  “Today, that means NYC’s most important civic data – and the processes that produce it – should be available to everyone online, on-demand and in the best formats possible.  The legislation introduced by Councilman Kallos today not only represents a sea change for civic data and the way it is made: it is the model for how municipal leaders across America should be reinventing their own governments to support informed, engaged communities that can tackle our toughest challenges.”

 

Congressman Issa, Chairman of the US House Oversight & Government Reform Committee – and Co-Founder of The OpenGov Foundation – lauded Kallos’ work:

 

“Investing in free and open-source software is critical to creating modern governments that deliver better service and more value,” said Congressman Darrell Issa.  “But across America, out-dated procurement rules block the information technology innovation we need, forcing citizens to foot the bill for billions of dollars wasted on expensive proprietary software boondoggles.  I applaud Councilman Kallos’ efforts to fix the retrograde purchasing rules preventing New York City from realizing the significant benefits of bringing open source software into municipal government.”

 

How Madison Works

Madison is a free online platform that connects citizens directly with their elected officials, turning today’s confusing and inefficient lawmaking processes into an interactive, seamless user experience where everyone can have an equal say, and actually be heard by their governments.  It’s how laws should be made in the Internet Age.

About Madison

Madison is free and open-source software that reinvents government for the Internet Age.  Madison 1.0 powered the American people’s successful defense of Internet freedom from Congressional threats.  It delivered the first crowdsourced bill in the history of the U.S. Congress.  And now, the non-partisan, non-profit OpenGov Foundation has released Madison 2.0, empowering you to participate in your government, efficiently access your elected officials, and hold them accountable.

Currently in beta, Madison 2.0 is open source software that can be used to open any government data production process on the Web – from regulations to rule-making, legislation to letter-writing.  Bottom line: Madison is custom-built to connect the decision-makers in our democracy to the people they serve. Click here if you want Madison and The OpenGov Foundation to help you get better results from your local, state or federal government.

About The OpenGov Foundation

OpenGov is a small non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 working to open government. That means making it easier for people to access and use as much government information as possible. We believe innovative technology can help deliver a government that listens, works for everyday citizens, and actually delivers smart solutions to our shared challenges.

We believe democracy means everyone should have the chance to be a hands-on contributor.

Councilmember Grosso & The OpenGov Foundation Launch Free Online Lawmaking Platform for Washington, D.C.

For the first time ever, MadisonDC gives residents a direct voice in the

creation of District laws, regulations, taxes, and more

May 16, 2014

 

WASHINGTON, DC – At-Large Councilmember David Grosso and The OpenGov Foundation today launched the beta version of MadisonDC, a free online lawmaking tool that empowers citizens to engage directly with their elected officials – and the policymaking process itself – by commenting on, proposing changes to, and debating real D.C. Council legislation.  Grosso is the first-ever District elected official to give citizens the opportunity to log on and legislate, putting him at the forefront of a nation-wide movement reinventing local legislatures with technology.  Three bills are now open for crowdsourcing on MadisonDC: a plan to fully legalize marijuana, a proposal to make zoning laws more friendly to urban farmers, and legislation to create open primary elections.

 

WATCH: Grosso Invites Constituents to Log On to Legislate with MadisonDC

How MadisonDC Works

MadisonDC turn’s today’s confusing and inefficient lawmaking processes into an interactive, Internet-based and seamless user experience where everyone can have an equal voice, share their ideas, and actually be heard by their governments.  It’s how laws should be made in the Internet Age.

 

 

WATCH: MadisonDC Gives You A Direct Voice in DC Government

“We are excited to support Councilmember Grosso’s unprecedented efforts to welcome residents – and their ideas – directly into the local lawmaking process,” said Seamus Kraft, Co-Founder & Executive Director of The OpenGov Foundation.  “But what really matters is that we’re going to produce better City Council bills, with fewer frustrations and unintended consequences.

 

“These three bills are only a start,” Kraft continued.  “The ultimate goal of MadisonDC is transforming D.C.’s entire policymaking machine for the Internet Age, creating an end-to-end, on-demand collaboration ecosystem for both citizens and city officials.  The possibilities are limitless.”

 

“As we encourage more public engagement in the legislative process, I hope D.C. residents will take a moment to log onto the Madison project,” added Councilmember Grosso.  “I look forward to seeing the public input on my proposed bills.”

 

About Madison

MadisonDC is the District of Columbia’s version of the free Madison software that reinvents government for the Internet Age.  Madison 1.0 powered the American people’s successful defense of Internet freedom from Congressional threats.  It delivered the first crowdsourced bill in the history of the U.S. Congress.  And now, the non-partisan, non-profit OpenGov Foundation has released Madison 2.0, empowering you to participate in your government, efficiently access your elected officials, and hold them accountable.

 

Currently in beta, Madison 2.0 is open source software that can be used to open any government data production process on the Web – from regulations to rule-making, legislation to letter-writing.  Bottom line: Madison is custom-built to connect the decision-makers in our democracy to the people they serve.  Click here if you want Madison and The OpenGov Foundation to help you get better results from your local, state or federal government.

 

About The OpenGov Foundation

OpenGov is a small non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 working to open government. That means making it easier for people to access and use as much government information as possible. We believe innovative technology can help deliver a government that listens, works for everyday citizens, and actually delivers smart solutions to our shared challenges.

 

We believe democracy means everyone should have the chance to be a hands-on contributor.

Announcing the AmLegal Decoder: A Free Tool to Publish Laws Seamlessly Online in Ridiculously Useful Open Data Formats

Benefits of “Decoded Law” Now Available to Residents of All 2,000 American Legal Cities

 

CINCINNATI, OH / WASHINGTON, DC—The American Legal Publishing Corporation and The OpenGov Foundation today announced the creation of the AmLegal Decoder, a new tool that seamlessly transforms hard-to-use municipal laws and legal codes into modern, restriction-free and user-friendly open data accessible via the growing, nationwide America Decoded network of legal websites. A historic collaboration between American Legal—the leading open government codifier in the United States—and the non-profit OpenGov Foundation produced the new tool at $0 cost to San Francisco, where the Decoder was first deployed. This new open-source software automatically updates SanFranciscoCode.org and delivers every newly-codified city law to all city employees, everyday citizens and job creators who need them, in the fastest, most cost-effective, useful way possible.

 

Click Here for a Hi-Res, Sharable Image

 

American Legal and The OpenGov Foundation will next employ the Decoder to enhance and maintain the legal codes of Chicago and Philadelphia, before expanding the America Decoded network to include up to 2,000 additional American Legal client cities.  But there is no need for any American Legal client to wait: all 2,000 municipalities on this map can get started decoding their laws today.

 

“American Legal has always believed that the laws that we codify for our municipal clients are owned by the local government itself as guardian for the people,” said Stephen G. Wolf, President of American Legal Publishing Corporation.  “For that reason, rather than hold such information hostage for commercial benefit, we have always freely provided electronic records of our codes to our client communities. We also provide free access to our online codes and the ability for anyone to search all of our online codes simultaneously at no cost!  We are proud of our commitment to user-friendly open data and even prouder to partner with The OpenGov Foundation to further increase transparency in local government through enhanced accessibility to municipal laws.”

 

Last September, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, The OpenGov Foundation and American Legal teamed up to transform and publish the city’s laws, legal and technical codes at SanFranciscoCode.org.  The road to becoming the second open law city to join the America Decoded network began at an August 2013 legal hackathon hosted at Code for America’s San Francisco headquarters.

 

“Easy access to laws and legislative information are cornerstones for thriving communities and democracies,” said San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell. “In San Francisco, we live in the global center of technology and innovation, and I believe it’s crucial that legislators and cities find ways for technology to drive and promote further civic engagement – which this partnership helps to accomplish. We’ve already taken steps here in San Francisco with ReimagineSF, and introducing new laws from direct citizen feedback on SanFranciscoCode.org to update outdated city laws and improve current policies as well.”

 

“As John Adams so wisely said, we have ‘a government of laws, not of men.’  How important it is, then, for us all to be able to read and understand the laws that govern us,” said Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media and Code for America Director.  “The AmLegal Decoder is a tool for bringing the republic that John Adams and his peers imagined into the 21st century.”

 

This technical achievement makes radically better access to legal information possible for every single one of American Legal’s 2,000 client cities.  Interested cities only have to take two steps to get started: indicate interest to their American Legal account manager, and click here to connect with The OpenGov Foundation.  Bottom line: the new Decoder smooths the path for potentially every city in the United States to join the America Decoded network of municipalities and states committed to harnessing technology to do more for their citizens, while spending fewer hard-earned tax dollars.

 

“This is a tremendous advance for open legal data, really without precedent. American Legal and the OpenGov Foundation have provided a gift to 2,000 cities, the gift of raw material for innovation,” said Waldo Jaquith, Director of the U.S. Open Data Institute.  “This data is being released just as many municipal governments are turning their attention to publishing open data, in response to national, community-rooted organizations like Code for America clamoring for that data. It will be exciting to see new legal data websites and apps popping up around the nation, every one in a municipality that’s an American Legal customer.”

 

“In order to promote a culture of open data and encourage widespread adoption, major players in the field need to connect and help develop standards that will make this data more useful and accessible,” said Michael Maness, vice president of journalism and media innovation for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “This partnership pushes forward these goals— combining the work of the OpenGov Foundation and American Legal to increase transparency and create avenues for more citizen engagement.” The Miami-based Knight Foundation, which believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged, recently provided support to the OpenGov Foundation’s Project Madison initiative.

 

Learn more about the benefits of decoding the laws, legal codes and technical rules of your city or state.  The America Decoded network is powered by the State Decoded open-source software project.  And click here for the GitHub repository for the AmLegal Decoder and SanFranciscoCode.org.

 

Contact

OpenGov: Seamus Kraft, seamus@opengovfoundation.org, +1-760-659-0631

AmLegal: Ray Bollhauer, Vice President of Client Relations, rbollhauer@amlegal.com, +1-800-445-5588