Code for America in Oaktown?

Today the City of Oakland met with Code for America to learn more about the fellowship and how it could benefit our town. We had representatives from the Mayor’s office, the new deputy Administrator, city council and ourselves. There was real excitement from the city folks about this partnership, and a very sure commitment from leadership that the city was serious about this possibility and clearly understood the benefits we stand to reap from being part of Code for America in 2013. This was for the first time a group of senior leaders who were willing to stick out their necks and allow for innovation in city hall. There was a clear understanding of many impediments our city faces to improving service delivery, being a more open and engaged city, removing barriers and blockages to effective service delivery and to allowing new technology to be a spur for process changes.

I’m personally very excited about this effort. Our city has faced numerous real challenges in the past year and there seemed to be no coordinated leadership to effectively use technology to improve our city and no chance city hall would get it together to present a cohesive, thought out application for CfA. But they’re on it. Giddy would be appropriate. I went in hoping it wouldn’t be CfA needing to sell itself to the city and was very happy to see the city staff and leaders being gung-ho to start this relationship and to become part of this dynamic, powerful network that CfA represents.

The idea pitched by the city resonates with my experience working in and with the city.  But I’m not going to steal anyone’s thunder by publishing what it was- that honor needs to remain with the people who actually formed the idea (and dealt with my constant stream of encouragement and nagging to become a CfA city). Combined with a very serious plan to move an OpenData policy through city council, this represents some really positive changes for our town. I’ve been open about poor decisions and bad tech in the past but I’m going to be even more vocal about good decisions and people trying to innovate and take risks rather than do the same ol thing the same ol way that never worked in the first place.

Let’s go Oakland! (Yes I just watched Moneyball and nearly shed a tear hearing that chant as Beane walked back into the stadium on the 20th game of the streak.)

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