Category Archives: Announcement

Statement on U.S. Digital Service Co-Founder Haley Van Dyck Returning to Serve in the Trump Administration

CONTACT: Mary Kate Mezzetti, | +1-508-776-2789

WASHINGTON, DC (March 14, 2017) — The OpenGov Foundation today released the following statement from Executive Director Seamus Kraft on the news that Haley Van Dyck, who co-founded the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) under President Barack Obama, is returning to serve at USDS under President Donald Trump.  Van Dyck joins the innovative technology team led by Acting Administrator Matt Cutts:

“There are few who understand how to modernize federal information technology systems and culture better than Haley Van Dyck.  As a co-founder of USDS, she intimately knows the organization, the people and the problems they are solving.  As a civic tech leader, she knows how to get it done in one of the most challenging environments on earth.  As a public servant, she is setting an unparalleled example that, no matter who occupies the Oval Office, talented individuals need to put aside partisanship to help deliver fantastic digital services for our fellow Americans— inside and outside government.

“As The OpenGov Foundation continues our push for a sorely needed Congressional Digital Service, we will keep watching and learning from Haley’s pioneering efforts at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.  And as a taxpayer, I am deeply grateful that someone with the courage, creativity and kindness of Haley Van Dyck is on the job ensuring that every single day, the federal government is getting better with tech, design and data.  Thank you, Haley.”


Statement on Internet Archive Offer to Deliver Free and Perpetual Public Access to PACER


February 14, 2017

CONTACT: Mary Kate Mezzetti, | +1-508-776-2789

WASHINGTON, DC (February 14, 2017) — The OpenGov Foundation today released the following statement from Executive Director Seamus Kraft on the Internet Archive’s offer to “archive and host— for free, forever and without restriction on access to the public— all records contained in [the Public Access to Court Electronic Records platform],” commonly known as PACER.  Right now, PACER charges the public per-page fees to access online these critical public judicial records, which undercuts PACER’s stated mission to deliver the best possible public access.  Public information freedom-fighter Aaron Swartz fought to liberate public court records from behind the problematic PACER paywall before his tragic passing:

“The vital public information in PACER is the property of the American people.  Public information, from laws to court records, should never be locked away behind paywalls, never be stashed behind arbitrary barriers and never be covered in artificial restrictions.  Forcing Americans to pay hard-earned money to access public court records is no better than forcing them to pay a poll tax.

“The Internet Archive’s offer to archive and deliver unrestricted public access to PACER for free and forever is the best possible Valentine’s Day gift to the American people.  The Internet Archive is proposing a cost-effective and innovative public-private partnership that will finally fix a clear injustice.  There is no reason to do anything but accept this offer in a heartbeat.”

PACER is hosted and maintained by the Administrative office of the U.S. Courts and is the main public access program for all federal appellate, district and bankruptcy court case and docket information.  The offer to host PACER at no cost to American taxpayers was made by Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle in a February 10, 2017 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, which is today hosting a hearing on the issue.



Statement on U.S. District Court Decision Allowing Private Copyright Holders to Continue Restricting Public Access to the Public Law


February 9th, 2017


Mary Kate Mezzetti | +1 (508) 776-2789

WASHINGTON, DC (February 9th, 2017The 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.”



Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited with Aaron Ogle Joining The OpenGov Foundation

“When I was a Navy pilot back there a thousand years ago, flying in the Pacific in 1944, we had a saying that some pilots still use today called CAVU— Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited. That applies to my life today. I’ve been blessed with so many challenges, failed in some, succeeded in others, but ceiling and visibility unlimited, that’s the way I feel about life itself…”

— President George HW Bush, 2008 Bryant University Commencement Address 

By Seamus Kraft

Imagine our democracy as an enormous airplane. It feels like the last few years have been one long stretch of civic turbulence. Everyone feels a little uncertain, unsettled, upset. No party, no place and no organization has had a bump-free ride. That very much includes our team here at The OpenGov Foundation (OGF).

When life tests us, it is how we choose to respond that matters. Like many in the civic tech world, we’ve had to make some very difficult  decisions. We’re scathed, but standing tall. We believe, like President George HW Bush, that the path before us is clear, and the possibilities at hand are unlimited. Each of us is now stronger, more resilient. Our team— from our staff to our board to our partners and advisors— is stronger too, more energized, prepared and committed to our critical mission of helping communities and residents govern better. This airplane belongs to all of us, and everyone in America deserves a voice in where we’re flying.

At The OGF, we’re rebuilding an enormously  important part of this great airship called democracy: our legislatures, from the smallest town to the Chicago City Council to the United States Congress. We’re doing it while airborne. Yet we can’t land. And we definitely can’t crash. But if we’ve learned nothing else during these turbulent times, it is this: building democracy is a massive undertaking— and The OGF can’t do it alone.

Now more than ever, we need to devote more resources to renovating our legislatures. We need more brilliant, curious, kind and creative engineers redesigning and refitting the engines of our democracy, so that together we can restore the rapidly eroding trust eating away at our communities, our country, and ourselves. That’s the real problem, the real source of the turbulence everyone feels. That is a very special problem that calls for a very special kind of engineer.

Aaron Ogle is that special kind of engineer. More importantly, he’s that special kind of person. He is scathed and experienced like we are, and in the best possible way. He’s been grappling with challenges like ours from the day he walked into the first class of Code for America Fellows as a good developer, walking out as a supremely talented civic technologist. From there, Aaron built and led and nurtured great teams of civic-minded technologists, designers, public servants, as Chief Technology Officer of OpenPlans then as Director of Civic Technology for the City of Philadelphia, PA. Remarkably, throughout Aaron has remained not just enthusiastic, but deeply and contagiously passionate about using his gifts to help people lead better, healthier and happier civic lives.

Today, I am honored to announce that he has joined The OGF team as Director of Product. He will be leading The OGF’s product efforts as we create the open, effective and inclusive legislatures we need, with— not for— the real people living and serving and solving real civic problems in real communities across America.

Aaron officially started last Monday. The whole OGF team traveled to his home base of Philadelphia to welcome him for his first two days. We were then on to Chicago for the rest of the week, already back to upgrading the engines of democracy in that fine city alongside our expert co-pilots in City Clerk Susana A. Mendoza’s office and on the Chicago City Council. As the Executive Director, seeing Aaron and our developers jump right in with Team @ChiCityClerk was a joyous, affirming and empowering experience for which I would trade nothing on earth. And this is only the takeoff.

Everyone onboard our democracy— you, your neighbors, your elected officials, everyone— wants these turbulent times transformed into a smoother civic flight. Put another way, everyone has a major stake in the successful transformation of our legislatures into the 21st Century governing institutions we lack, and so sorely need. With Aaron Ogle as part of The OGF family, we’re already closer to turning off the seatbelt signs, free once more to move about the cabin so that America can fly faster and truer into the unimaginably bright, clear and limitless future before us all.

Seamus Kraft is Executive Director and co-founder of The OpenGov Foundation.


Tweet to Win a Free Legislative Upgrade for Your Community with the Madison 3.0 Launch Contest

1. On Thursday, September 8, tweet @FoundOpenGov with your vision for better government, powered by Madison.

2. Get lots of likes, RTs and @ replies.

3. Win a free 30-minutes-or-less upgrade to Internet-Age policymaking with Madison 3.0.

Bonus: We film the whole thing to show you how easy it is to start governing better, together, with Madison!


WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 8, 2016) — To mark The OpenGov Foundation’s release today of Madison 3.0, we are offering one lucky legislature, elected official or community-based group the chance to go from 0— today’s out-dated paper-based policymaking— to governing better, together, with Madison.  To win the Madison 3.0 Launch Contest and your own instance of Madison, all you have to do is send at least one Tweet between the hours of 7 AM and 10 PM EST tomorrow that includes The OpenGov Foundation’s Twitter handle, @FoundOpenGov, along with your vision for a brighter, smarter and easier policymaking future with the support of Madison.  Below are some example Tweets from our Executive Director to get your creative juices flowing.


The Tweet with the most action— “likes,” “retweets,” and “public replies”— at the end of the contest wins a free paper-to-digital transformation, which thanks to the enhancements contained in Madison 3.0, will take as little as 30 minutes.  The civic tech cherry on top?  We’ll film our talented team of technologists from start to finish so you can show the world just how easy it is to radically upgrade civic engagement, while leading the charge to more efficient, effective and open government where you live.  

Every U.S. government policymaking entity is eligible. Whether your favorite legislature is local, county, state or federal, all need an Internet Age upgrade.  All are eligible to win tomorrow’s Madison 3.0 Launch Contest.


The Madison 3.0 Launch Contest Instructions

Tweet. Share Your Better Government Vision. Win Madison for Your Community

From 7 AM-10 PM EST on September 9, 2016, you can win a free Madison 3.0 setup for your state, local or county legislature, plus our expert assistance launching your first collaborative policymaking initiative, plus a custom video of the as little-as-30-minute legislative transformation.  All you have to do is:

  1. Tweet @FoundOpenGov to tell us how your community will govern better, together, with Madison starting at 7 AM EST tomorrow.  
  2. Enlist your networks to get as many “likes” and “retweets” as possible for your vision of a better, tech-powered governing future.
  3. Rinse. Retweet. Repeat. You can enter as many Tweets as you’d like between 7 AM and 10 PM EST tomorrow!


Frequently Asked Questions

What if I tweet @FoundOpenGov with my better government vision before 7 AM, or after 10 PM EST, tomorrow?

  • Tweets sent before or after the contest will likely be RTed, liked and maybe even loved, but unfortunately, aren’t eligible for the top prize.

Will you really help my community go from 0 to Madison in as little as 30 minutes?

What if I win but Madison doesn’t have every policymaking, public access or civic engagement feature I can dream of?  Do I get a refund?

  • We will fully refund the Tweets of all unsatisfied Madison 3.0 Launch Contest entrants.  For a refund, please send your Tweet in a self-addressed stamped envelope to: The OpenGov Foundation, Attn: Madison 3.0 Launch Content Refund, 1875 Connecticut Ave, NW, 10th Floor Washington, D.C. 20009.  You could also share your must-have feature request with The OpenGov Foundation tech team here on Github for inclusion in a future Madison release; even better, you could build it yourself, submit a pull request here, and work with us to make your idea a reality.  Just a thought.

What if I am not an elected official, government worker, community-based organization, or civic technologist?  May I still enter the Madison 3.0 Launch Contest?

  • Yes! If you don’t fall into one of those groups above, so what? You’re still a taxpaying citizen with great ideas who cares about your community so much that you got off the couch, got on Twitter, and got engaged. We’ll work with you to find the right folks in government, the right people in your local civic technology community, and the right policy ideas to get rolling governing better, together with Madison. (You do, however, still have to get the most action on your Tweets!)

How much is the Madison 3.0 Launch Contest winning prize worth?

  • You really can’t put a price on better government. 

I thought Madison was open source software. Can’t I just go to Github, copy the code, and stand up my own version?

  • Right again!  You seem like a savvy, civically-minded developer who could probably work with our savvy, civically-minded developers and/or your local Code for America Brigade to stand up a savvy instance of our SAVVY MADISON OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE in, oh, about the running time of a savvy Seinfeld episode.  Savvy?

What if I don’t want to upgrade my legislature to the Internet Age? What if I really like paper and inefficiency, and really hate openness and technology?

  • Then the Madison 3.0 Launch Contest probably isn’t for you.

Who can we thank for Madison 3.0?

  • Madison 3.0, and all of the work of The OpenGov Foundation, is generously supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Consumer Technology Association, and the amazing men and women with whom The OpenGov Foundation partners in communities, governments and civil society organizations across America.
  • The real talent behind Madison 3.0 who deserve the most thanks: our world-class developers and designers, past and present.  On the development side: Seth Etter, Tanner Doshier, Bill Hunt, Chris Birk, Ross Tsiomenko, Sean Keefer, inSourceCode, and all the open source contributors listed here.  On the design side: John Athayde, Scout Addis, and Bryan Connor.  On the operations and engagement side: Meag Doherty, Aaron Bartnick, Nicko Margolies, Leili Slutz, and Mary Kate Mezzetti.  All rockstars. All civic innovators.  All amazing people who made Madison 3.0 possible.


ADVISORY: Celebrate the Start of Global Legislative Openness Week with The OpenGov Foundation, Sunlight Foundation and the National Democratic Institute

Don’t miss the September 12th discussion on legislative openness, priorities for the 115th Congress,

and current parliamentary modernization efforts in the United States and around the world.


Meag Doherty,

Greg Brown,

WASHINGTON, DC (September 7, 2016) – To kick off 2016 Global Legislative Openness Week on September 12, 2016, The OpenGov Foundation’s Executive Director Seamus Kraft will help lead a critical discussion at the OpenGov Hub in Washington, D.C. at 10 AM EST on the state of America’s most important government entities: our legislatures.  Co-sponsored by The Sunlight Foundation and the National Democratic Institute, the discussion will be webcast live, and is open to the public and to journalists.  Click here for more event information and to RSVP, and click here to learn more about the Open Government Partnership’s Global Legislative Openness week.

From the Chicago City Council to the United States Congress, innovation is afoot and positive change is happening.  Join Seamus, The Sunlight Foundation, the National Democratic Institute and more to learn both the latest from the frontlines of opening legislatures, what modernization recommendations are at the top of the list for the 115th U.S. Congress that kicks off in January 2017, and how you can get involved.  

What: “Openness and the 115th Congress: Civil Society Priorities and Projects”

With elections quickly approaching, GLOW provides an opportunity to reflect on both recent efforts to open Congress to the public and priorities for the 115th Congress. This panel of leading domestic civil society experts will introduce their work and identify the most important openness issues to be addressed in the 115th Congress.

When: Monday, September 12, 2016 at 10 AM EST

Where: The OpenGov Hub, 1110 Vermont Avenue Northwest #500, Washington, DC 20005

How to Attend: Click here to RSVP




Dear Elected Officials of America: Help Is On the Way with Madison 3.0

An open letter to America’s elected officials and staff on the release of Madison 3.0.

Dear Elected Representatives and Staff:

Public service today is no cakewalk. On the best days, it is insanely difficult to work in a legislature; on most days, success is virtually impossible. You and your colleagues signed up to represent the public’s views in government, helping to build a stronger community for your neighbors and a brighter future for your kids. That’s one of the most critical jobs on earth. It is also one of the most difficult.

Ask yourself: do you have everything you need to be the best elected representative possible? Enough staff? Enough time? The best possible systems, tools and technology?

If you answered yes, you are the luckiest elected official in the world.  But if you answered no, then you need to know about today’s release of the new-and-improved Madison online policymaking software.


WATCH: Governing Better, Together, With Madison

Madison is lawmaking for the Internet Age, built by our world-class team of technologists here at The OpenGov Foundation to help you, your staff and your constituents govern better, together.  Madison, first launched in 2011, has already helped the U.S. Congress to protect a free and open Internet from special-interests— SOPA— while helping hundreds of thousands of everyday Americans see, shape and understand it all.  Madison has already helped deliver the first crowdsourced legislation in the history of the U.S. Congress— The OPEN ACT— and first crowdsourced law in the history of the federal government— The DATA Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in May 2014.  Madison has already helped the Obama White House create its playbook for public participation.  Madison has already helped diverse communities from Washington, D.C. — Drafts.DC.Gov— to Wichita, K.S. — Drafts.Wichita.Gov— create smarter laws, working with residents and stakeholders, not in spite of or against them.  

The common thread?  Forward-thinking policymakers and staff like you who understand, to put it lightly, the significant limitations of paper-based policymaking— and who know that there are better ways to get the job done.  Because right now, your entire government, policymaking process and your work as a public servant can only go so far as the paper at the center of it all.  Until your legislature, legislative systems and legislative data are in step with our times— digital instead of paper-based, collaborative instead of combative, efficient and effective instead of gridlocked and always playing catch-up— you, your staff, your community and your constituents will continue to be frustrated.  Stick with your paper-based legislature, and you won’t be able to achieve everything you set out to do when you and your family decided to enter public service. It’s that simple.

Let’s be honest: in an age of Google Docs and the iPhone, paper-based legislatures should be a thing of the past.  And we both know the coming transformation of your legislature— all legislatures, regulatory bodies, and all of the critical information flowing through them— will take a lot of work.  A seismic operational shift like this takes money, know-how, time and trust. Four things that are in outrageously short supply, whether you serve in the United States Congress or a small city council. You need to rebuild your paper-based legislative airplane while it’s flying. But it can’t land and it definitely can’t crash.  You’ll need a lot of help.  With Madison, you can get started upgrading today, for free, with our trusted team, our proven approach and our years of experience working in and around legislatures across America.  

Together, we can modernize and upgrade your policymaking process with Madison in as little as 30 minutes. It really is that straight-forward.  I repeat: say the word and in as little as 30 minutes your community will go from governing like this…


…to governing better, together, like this.


I know you’re busy, so let’s get down to brass tacks: what’s in it for you, your team, your legislature and your constituents?  With Madison and the support of our team at The OpenGov Foundation, you will:

  1. Gain More Support and Visibility for Your Policy Goals — Transforming your legislation into Madison’s modern, Internet-ready and collaborative experience requires just a few minutes. But it turns the hard-to-find, hard-to-share paper-based policies you are working so hard to pass into a digital engagement experience. Your constituents can find it on Google! They can share their views and ideas with a few clicks! Isn’t that how it should be? Madison is a one-stop-shop for you to respond — and show the world you’re responsive — while at the same time building new support, new allies and new contacts.
  2. Not Need to Buy Anything, Bust Your Budget or Hire Tech Teams — Madison is 100% free and open source software. Yes, that means $0 cost. How? We’re an IRS-certified 501©3 non-profit. Our mission is to make your legislature more effective, efficient and accessible for you, your colleagues and those you represent. You have plenty of options, too. We can host Madison for your community. We can set it up on your legislature’s servers, too. Whatever works best for you, your team and your current situation.
  3. Create Smarter Policy, Putting All the World’s Knowledge and Expertise to Work for You — Every day, the issues you have to work on get more and more complex. Delivering the best policy for your people requires a dizzying array of technical, issue-specific knowledge and expertise. You do not want to make mistakes. Opening your policymaking process with Madison opens up all of the world’s knowledge and a virtually unlimited army of experts ready and willing to help you get it right. Look at how Chicago, IL is working with universities, innovators and its residents to craft smart policy on the Internet of Things, or how Washington, D.C. is working with open data experts to build cutting-edge rules for public access to government data. Imagine if you had that intellectual firepower in your foxhole? That’s what Madison can do for you.
  4. Rebuild Trust and Confidence in Your Legislature, Yourself and Your Community — Let’s be frank: you know and I know that you and your colleagues, and every legislator in America, is working with far less public trust than you need. Today’s Gallup polling shows that a paltry 18% approve of how the U.S. Congress is doing its lawmaking job. While you hopefully have a more public support than that, you’ll need a lot more public trust and confidence in order to solve our multiplying challenges. Create your policies with Madison, and the trust in your policies go up. No fear of smoke- and special-interest-filled rooms — you can show your work and your reasoning openly, and stand behind it. No frustrations about not being able to take a day off of work to show up and be heard — your constituents, business and community leaders, experts, everyone can weigh in 24/7. Madison means fewer avoidable legislative mistakes, fewer unintended consequences, and fewer surprises for the people you represent — who will soon decide who will represent them moving forward. You already post your legislation online, albeit in rather inaccessible, paper-based and hard-to-find ways. Why not reap the public benefit and earn the public trust by doing the same thing, but way better, with Madison?

I invite you to see Madison 3.0 in action in real legislative environments, like Wichita, KS and Washington, D.C. Click around to get a feel for Internet Age legislating. Watch a short tutorial video. Read what other elected officials and staff are saying about Madison, and see how Madison has helped other communities like yours.  Step back and compare policymaking with Madison to, well, the paper-based, inaccessible and frankly unworkable alternatives you’re stuck with today.

If you’re ready to learn more or get rolling, all you have to do is get in touch: You can email us by clicking here. You can click here to Tweet us @FoundOpenGov. You can call me directly at any time on +1-760-659-0631. Our team is on stand-by, and will help get you and your community governing better, together, with Madison.

I can’t promise Madison will make everything in your legislature and your life easy overnight. But I can guarantee governing with Madison, and working with The OpenGov Foundation, will make policymaking a lot easier, a lot more productive, and help you make a bigger difference in your community.

Isn’t that why you signed up to serve in the first place?


Seamus First Name Only Signature

Seamus Kraft

Executive Director & Co-Founder

The OpenGov Foundation


Madison 3.0, and all of the work of The OpenGov Foundation, is generously supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Consumer Technology Association, and the amazing men and women with whom The OpenGov Foundation partners in communities, governments and civil society organizations across America.

Madison 3.0 would not be possible without seriously talented people who deserve our thanks: The OpenGov Foundation’s world-class developers and designers, past and present.  On the development side: Seth Etter, Tanner Doshier, Bill Hunt, Chris Birk, Ross Tsiomenko, Sean Keefer, inSourceCode, and all the open source contributors listed here.  On the design side: John Athayde, Scout Addis, and Bryan Connor.  On the operations and engagement side: Meag Doherty, Aaron Bartnick, Nicko Margolies, Leili Slutz, and Mary Kate Mezzetti.  All rockstars. All civic innovators.  All amazing people who made Madison 3.0 possible.



Dear Civic Technologists: Madison 3.0 Is Here to Help Your Community Govern Better, Together

Dear fellow civic technologist,

My name is Seth Etter, and I’m writing from The OpenGov Foundation development team with some exciting news, and an awesome opportunity to help transform and upgrade your local legislature with free and open source software called Madison.  

As one of the developers behind it— and as the co-captain of my local Code for America Brigade, Open Wichita— I wanted to let you know about today’s Madison 3.0 release, which makes it a lot easier to go from 0 to to governing better, together, with Madison.  

Communities like Washington, D.C. and my hometown, Wichita, KS, are already making smarter policy with Madison, joining a diverse community of users ranging from Chicago, IL and the Obama Administration to the United Nations and U.S. Congress.  

Our team is excited about the work that’s been done to help you help improve your city and state legislature.  I hope you are too!


WATCH: Governing Better, Together, With Madison

Governing Better, Together, with Madison

Madison is software for public engagement on draft legislative documents. It allows citizens direct access to the work of their elected officials through direct engagement on their proposed policies.  This short tutorial video will give you a taste of of just how easy it is to bring democracy and civic engagement in your community into the Internet Age.

For citizens, Madison offers an online, easy-to-use platform for expressing their views to their elected officials. For elected officials, it offers a way to more effectively represent the views of their constituents.  Simply put, Madison takes the most important function of government-making, passing and enforcing the laws that govern us- from this…


…to this.


Even better, Madison 3.o is 100% free and completely open source. To us at The OpenGov Foundation, part of Madison being freely available means making it easy to setup and manage your own instance. Lowering the barrier for cities to have their own way for facilitating public engagement has been a key focus in this newest release.

Now is the time to bring the benefits of Madison to *your* city!

Why now? Here’s a quick overview.

The primary goals of Madison 3.0 were rethinking some of the underlying infrastructure in the project that lead to previous issues with deployment, upgrading, launching your own customized instance, etc.

We want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get started with Madison, and we believe we’ve made significant strides to that end with this release.

Here’s the tl;dr on Madison 3.0–

  • New file structure – We’ve separated the client and server code! Part of this was for a more isolated build process for the client side code. We’ve also identified that a lot of outstanding issues are due to client side code, so the separation will prepare us to better tackle them going forward.
  • Customizability – We want to make it easy to customize your Madison instance with your own look and feel. Until this release, your best bet was having a separate code base that maintained your customizations. Now you can use provided custom CSS and locale files! Keep pulling updates from our master branch while maintaining your own custom overrides.
  • Improved client build process – Previously, it was required that you build your client side assets locally, commit them to the repo, and then deploy them. This goes against conventional web application standards, so we’ve removed that practice and made asset building part of the new and improved deployment pipeline!
  • Easier deployment – It’s important to us at OpenGov Foundation that it be as easy as possible for anyone to find Madison and launch an instance for their city or other legislative body. We’ve adopted both Chef and Capistrano to make this process possible with a small set of commands.

If you’re ready to get your community rolling straightaway, check out our deployment documentation on Github. This contains information on using Chef to install all the necessary dependencies on your server, and Capistrano for deploying the Madison codebase to it.

But wait, there’s more!

We’ve done a handful of other great things with this release. Check them out on Github in the Madison 3.0 upgrade documentation. We’re excited to make it easier for you to get Madison into the hands of your local elected officials, government staff, stakeholders and all residents like you. If you have any questions about Madison 3.0, how we can work together to put Madison to work in your city or state legislature, get in touch today.  You can email us.  You can Tweet us.  You can call or text us any time on +1-760-659-0631. Or you can jump in directly on Github.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

All the best,

Seth Etter and The OpenGov Foundation Team


Madison 3.0, and all of the work of The OpenGov Foundation, is generously supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Rita Allen Foundation, the Consumer Technology Association, and the amazing men and women with whom The OpenGov Foundation partners in communities, governments and civil society organizations across America.

Madison 3.0 would not be possible without seriously talented people who deserve our thanks: The OpenGov Foundation’s world-class developers and designers, past and present.  On the development side: Seth Etter, Tanner Doshier, Bill Hunt, Chris Birk, Ross Tsiomenko, Sean Keefer, inSourceCode, and all the open source contributors listed here.  On the design side: John Athayde, Scout Addis, and Bryan Connor.  On the operations and engagement side: Meag Doherty, Aaron Bartnick, Nicko Margolies, Leili Slutz, and Mary Kate Mezzetti.  All rockstars. All civic innovators.  All amazing people who made Madison 3.0 possible.



RELEASE: Celebrating the Winning Students and Ideas from Envision Chicago Round One

July 20, 2016

Nicko Margolies (The OpenGov Foundation) – – (202) 642-4467
Patrick Corcoran (Office of the Chicago City Clerk) – – (312) 744-7404

Press Release

Celebrating the Winning Students and Ideas from Envision Chicago Round One

Envision Chicago logo

CHICAGO, IL (July 20, 2016)Today, The OpenGov Foundation and the Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza join Aldermen, local companies and community organizations to celebrate the winners of the Envision Chicago pilot program. Chicago public high school students in four wards shared their ideas to improve city laws and today the four winning students will receive $1,000 scholarships and join the July Council Meeting to be honored with a commemorative resolution.

The winning students are:

  • Gabriela Casarrubias from Marine Leadership Academy at Ames in Ward 26, represented by Ald. Roberto Maldonado. Her winning idea was to expand the required adoption notices for unredeemed animals (§ 7­12­110).
  • Lavon Halloway from Chicago Excel Academy of Roseland in Ward 34, represented by ­Ald. Carrie Austin. His idea was to increase the minimum wage to reduce poverty (§ 1­24­020).
  • Victor Story from Taft High School in Ward 41, represented by Ald. Anthony Napolitano. His idea was to expand the hours of school playgrounds so kids can be in a safe space (§ 10­36­120).
  • Diana Bustamante from Lake View High School in Ward 47, represented by Ald. Ameya Pawar. Her idea was to improve owner identification of stray animals (§ 7­12­040).

It’s clear that when government meets students on their terms, and respects their voices, great things can happen. These students learned positive engagement practices on a user ­friendly website of the Chicago Municipal Code and 86 students dove in, discovered laws covering issues they cared about and shared their ideas. The sponsors for the scholarships of this inaugural Envision Chicago round were Microsoft Chicago, The Smart Chicago Collaborative, Haymarket, ComEd and Comcast.

“Chicago will soon be in the hands of its future leaders. Envision Chicago is showing that they are already dreaming big for that day, embracing this hands-on civic education opportunity and adding their voice to improve their city,” said Seamus Kraft, Executive Director of The OpenGov Foundation. “Thanks to the incredible students and teachers who participated in the Envision Chicago pilot, the leadership of Clerk Mendoza, and the generosity of our sponsors, a new day is dawning for democracy. I look forward to building on this civic engagement success and expanding Envision Chicago to all 50 wards to include all of our young people.”

“Envision Chicago connected young Chicagoans to their laws, elected officials and community. These future leaders came back with great ideas proving they are eager and capable to take charge of the laws that govern them,” said Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza. “This great city cannot address its challenges without an informed, engaged community that includes the city’s youth.”

“The OpenGov Foundation and Clerk Mendoza’s Office have created a fresh, new approach to the way our society can participate in the democratic process,” said the 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado. “I am proud that they selected Marine Leadership Academy in the 26th Ward to launch their pilot project and scholarship contest. This opportunity for our young students to explore the new people-friendly has ignited excitement, curiosity, and participation in government like I have never, ever, seen before. Although only one winner was selected for the scholarship out of many entries, we are all winners because this new approach to participating in municipal government will encourage and ensure a healthy democracy for all.”

“I want to commend Envision Chicago, through its partnership with The OpenGov Foundation, along with the Clerk’s Office, Chicago Public Schools, the City of Chicago and other allies who worked in conjunction with promoting transparency in government to area students,” said 34th Ward Alderman Carrie M. Austin. “It is likewise a most appropriate gesture to have coupled this exercise in civics with a scholarship toward higher education. It is my hope that students who were selected to engage themselves in broadening their understanding of laws and how they define the ways in which we live, will continue to use the Envision Chicago free access to their local laws to become more invested stakeholders and better advocates for their communities.”

“Microsoft is pleased to support Envision Chicago and congratulates all the winners,” said Shelley Stern Grach, the Director of Civic Engagement at Microsoft Chicago. “We applaud this new program focused on the intersection of civics, open government and technology.”

“Haymarket Public Strategies is proud to be a part of this competition,” said Julie Derrig, Vice President of Public Affairs at Haymarket. “It is critically important that we actively engage the City’s youth in the legislative process. Congratulations to all the winners here today and congratulations to Clerk Mendoza and the Envision team for putting this important competition together.”

Envision Chicago introduced students to the laws of Chicago through, the city’s first open data edition of its municipal code. The site showcases the city law with inline definitions for legalese, the ability for anyone to comment and a user friendly, online format. With this improved access, students explored the rules that govern them and offered ideas to laws they thought were outdated or ineffective.

This fall, Chicago public school students will be required to complete two semesters of civic education. We hope schools and wards will adopt the model of Envision Chicago and bring direct civic engagement into their curriculum. It is up to all Chicagoans to foster civic engagement in our young people. It is our job to teach them how to positively engage, while encouraging them to speak out on issues that matter to them. The only way we can find solutions that work for all Chicagoans is to address our shared challenges, together.

The OpenGov Foundation is committed to bringing together civic engagement and modern, open source technology in Chicago. This student scholarship initiative is a part of the organization’s larger commitment to build 21st century lawmaking through the partnership with the Chicago City Clerk’s office.

About The OpenGov Foundation
The OpenGov Foundation is a fiercely nonpartisan nonprofit helping people participate in the government decisions that affect their lives. We believe innovative technology and open data can help deliver democratic governments that listen to citizens, operate efficiently and solve our shared challenges the smart way. We believe democracy means everyone should have the chance to be a hands-on contributor.