Monthly Archives: May 2015

We’re Hiring! Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships

About Us
The OpenGov Foundation is a small non-profit organization working to build a 21st century democracy by bridging the gap between citizens and government. We’re looking for a strong communicator to help create and share our story of building better government in partnership with citizens and elected officials.

We value diversity in our organization, and candidates from groups under-represented in government and technology–including women, people of color, and people with disabilities–are encouraged to apply.

About You
Are you passionate about creating more informed, engaged communities that are more inclusive and accessible for everyone? Are you interested in how new technologies can create powerful social change? Do you love connecting with others, and finding the most effective way to tell a story? Are you social-media-savvy, an engaging and versatile writer, and familiar with video and photography? We would love to hear from you.

Summary
You will develop and execute our press, digital, and external relations strategies in a fast-paced, rewarding and high-growth environment, working closely with the rest of The OpenGov Foundation team. This position is based in our Washington, DC office.

Key Responsibilities
You would:

  • Build and manage relationships with local, national, and tech reporters in order to share our story
  • Draft and place op-eds, promotional materials, and presentations
  • Manage and grow our existing communications platforms, including our social media accounts, blog, and newsletter, and proactively seek new ways to promote the organization’s work
  • Manage relationships with current partner organizations and government officials, and strategically grow The OpenGov Foundation family
  • Coordinate special projects and events, including legislative crowdsourcing initiatives and hackathons
  • Help to develop, execute and share powerful digital storytelling pieces like infographics and video


Required Qualifications
You have the following skills and experience: 

  • Some (1-2 years) experience in nonprofit, advocacy, or political communications
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills, with an emphasis on persuasive writing
  • Strong experience developing and executing digital communications (social media, infographics, video)
  • Ability to work with a small, tight-knit team of equals in an emerging field; ability to take initiative and execute projects with minimal oversight
  • Flexibility; willingness to experiment and to grow on the job
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail


Preferred Qualifications
It would be a bonus if you have: 

  • Interest in civic technology, open government, and open data
  • Familiarity with agile project management and web development
  • Experience in public speaking or sales


If you do not have these qualifications, we can provide the mentorship needed to bring you up to speed.

Application Materials
Using Screendoor, please submit:

  • Your current resume
  • Two writing samples, including one recent press release, published op-ed or publicly-delivered speech and one example of your long-form writing.


Salary, Benefits, Legal Documents
We are able to provide $50,000-$75,000 for this position depending on experience and needs. We are an organization that operates in the open, which means that you can see our internal and legal documents online. We have posted online all of our employee documents, including our current employee handbook and onboarding materialsadditional human resources documents, and current employee salaries. We also try to promote a healthy work/life balance, and have flexible time policies.

Sample Video & News Stories from The OpenGov Foundation
Get a taste of our news coverage and videos:

Learning from #Hack4Congress

Editor’s Note: The following comes from Daniel Schuman and the Congressional Data Coalition (CDC), which has generously allowed us to cross post from the original.  The OpenGov Foundation’s Executive Director Seamus Kraft is a member of the CDC Steering Committee.

The Tuesday, May 12 #Hack4Congress awards ceremony at the House of Representatives’ majestic Judiciary Committee hearing room was the culmination of a 6 month long effort to engage technologically savvy members of the public with making Congress more open and efficient. The three winners of congressional data hackathons in CambridgeSan Francisco, and Washington, D.C. presented their projects to three members of Congress, a bipartisan array of senior congressional staff, and a packed gallery filled with journalists, advocates, staff, academics, and others.

Hack4Congress Panel

More than 620 people and 16 members of Congress participated over the course of the hackathons, events where policy wonks and technologists who had not previously met developed web tools to address perceived problems with the way Congress works. Participants were challenged to address problems—and were provided suggested topics by members of Congress and non-governmental groups like us—in one of the following five categories.

  1. Improving the Lawmaking Process
  2. Facilitating Cross-Partisan Dialogue
  3. Modernizing Congressional Participation
  4. Closing the Representation and Trust Gaps
  5. Reforming Campaign Finance

Each of the three winning projects performed an extraordinary amount of work over a short period of time. It is worth checking out the presentations from the winning teams—CDash, CoalitionBuilder, CongressConnect—which are summarized here. To see a demonstration of the projects, watch this video from the awards ceremony.

Several themes emerged from the regional hackathons and awards ceremony.

First, the hackathons illustrated the significant public enthusiasm for using technology to make Congress work better. This enthusiasm for the development of congressional civictech, to use the in-vogue buzzword, should be no surprise to anyone who watches this space closely. The unique levels of complexity and institutional challenges that arise in the federal legislature have long served as a crucible for development of new technologies inside and outside government. Over the last half-decade in particular, the House of Representatives has leaped forward, and the Senate and legislative support agencies have followed, in efforts to make more data available in civic friendly formats, prompted in part by the work of our coalition.

Second, while there’s a lot of talk about state and local governments as civictech innovators, the greatest improvements in public access to information still arise from work done at the federal level. The 2009 Stimulus Act forced the states for the first time to track federal spending, which was then reported on a federal website. Federal civictech websites like GovTrack have served as a model for the updates to THOMAS (now Congress.gov) and the development of legislative information websites in the various states and around the world. The DATA Act will cause the creation of unique identifiers to track the flow of nearly all federal funds. And funding for the Government Publishing Office and its primary website FdSys effects local access to information held at federal depository libraries and online.

Third, even with all the enthusiasm, it was apparent that many people still do not know where to find federal legislative information. That’s no surprise. Publishing of congressional information developed organically, in fits and starts, in different places through the bureaucracy. It was not systematic because it had never been done before. Only in the last few years with the development of docs.house.gov,rules.house.gov, and non-governmental sites like the GitHub United States projectpage, has there been some effort to catalog and publish data in a few central locations. Most people, however, are unaware of these publishing efforts, and more needs to be done to help civic technologists find and make sense of this data.

Finally, civic technologists would benefit from guidance. Many technologists want to build things are useful, but are not sure what that is. Or they don’t understand how Congress works at a significant level of detail. Or they want to build something but don’t realize it already exists. This is where our community can help. We can connect policy experts with civic developers. We can build online resource that identify thetools that exist and data sources, list ideas for what should be built, and help people get connected into the broader community.

The OpenGov Foundation, the Ash Center at Harvard, and their civictech partners should be applauded for hosting an incredibly successful series of events. They dovetail perfectly with the great work the House of Representatives is doing, as showcased at the recent Legislative Data and Transparency Conference. We hope there will be another formal #Hack4Congress next year and we look forward toparticipating.

RELEASE: Reps. Walden, Brooks, Issa and Moulton, Senators Thune and Markey Join #Hack4Congress Grand Finale

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 14, 2015

CONTACT

Aaron Bartnick, aaron@opengovfoundation.org, 845-216-6809

Press Release

 

Reps. Walden, Brooks, Issa and Moulton,

Senators Thune and Markey Join

#Hack4Congress Grand Finale

 

100+ Turn Out for Creating A Better Congress with Innovative, Open-Source Technologies  

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 14, 2015)The OpenGov Foundation and the Harvard University Ash Center closed the 2015 #Hack4Congress competitions — where teams of citizens vie to create innovative, low-cost and open-source technologies that make Congress work better  — with a standing room-only event on Capitol Hill yesterday. The winning teams from #Hack4Congress events in Boston, San Francisco, and DC presented their solutions to a panel of Members, including Representatives Seth Moulton (D-MA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Greg Walden (R-OR) and Susan Brooks (R-IN), as well as top digital and communications staff from House Leadership and Senate Offices.  Later in the day, the teams visited Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Edward Markey (D-MA) and received even more actionable feedback on how to take their projects to the next level, with an eye towards deploying them to support a modern, efficient and effective U.S. House and Senate.

 

Video of the event is available here.

 

“Members of Congress need to know about these tools,” said Rep. Brooks to #Hack4Congress Boston representatives CongressConnect, who built a platform to help congressional offices schedule smarter, more efficient meetings. “We don’t spend enough time being educated on the types of tools we have; these would be spectacular and make our lives a lot easier. So thank you all very much.”

 

“I think all of this is really helpful,” said Rep. Walden to Team CDash, who built an open-source data visualization and verification platform for citizens, staffers and Members themselves.  “I’ve been on staff. I’ve been a Member. Going out on the Internet [for mission-critical information] is great, but it takes a long time, and then you have to verify the information.”

 

“The difference between our founding fathers and today is there is so much more information and it’s so hard to even sort through the information the executive and legislative branch wants you to see,” said Rep. Issa in his opening remarks. “The goal is for the American people, for 300 million-plus people, to begin discovering, and then telling us what they see that was overlooked by the handful of people who run the government today.”

 

About the Three Winning Teams & Projects

 

#Hack4Congress-San Francisco representatives, CDash, designed a way to put analytical tools in the hands of members and staff so that, when preparing for a hearing or a constituent meeting, users can search, collect, and view data sets about relevant issues. “We know that one of the main challenges of working in Congress is time,” said team member Kate Wing. “We want to help Members of Congress be able to go into meetings and be fully prepared.”

 

#Hack4-Congress-DC’s Team CoalitionBuilder created an easy-to-use platform that aggregates necessary information, such as voting records, co-sponsorships, and committee assignments to produce a list of members who are active on the issue, streamlining the vetting process. CoalitionBuilder helps congressional staffers who otherwise struggle through hours of research to identify potential partners or pay up to $6,000 per year to use existing platforms. “That’s about 20 percent of a staffer’s salary,” said team member and former congressional staffer Melissa Medina. “Offices can’t afford that.”

 

#Hack4Congress-Boston representatives, CongressConnect, designed a platform where constituents can directly request meetings on the Hill or in their district office, access tutorials to prepare for their meeting and connect with other constituents who share their advocacy goals. Team member Jessie Landerman told panelists that CongressConnect “captures the essence of democracy: helping to engage, educate, and empower citizens.”

 

#Hack4Congress is a series of civic hackathons that has attracted hundreds of civic hackers, technologists, and congressional staffers from across the country to address over three dozen challenges posed by Members of Congress, staffers, and individual citizens.

 

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