Debates between candidates competing for public office are an important part of democracy. In 1858 Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas as candidates to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate held a series of seven debates across the state. The first televised general election debate for U.S. President was held in 1960 between John . . . → Read More: Every Community Should Have A Debate Commission
The City of San Francisco Board of Supervisors on November 25, 2014, passed the first Retail Workers Bill of Rights in the nation. The legislation will apply to retail chains with 11 or more locations nationally or worldwide and that have at least 20 employees in San Francisco under one management system. The . . . → Read More: Retail Workers Bill of Rights
Many private sector business put a great deal of focus on innovation. New products and ways to deliver services are an important way that businesses can stand out from their competitors.
Local governments likewise should continually be seeking ways to deliver services, better, cheaper and faster. Several communities around the country are . . . → Read More: Every Local Government Should Create An Innovation Fund
The Amherst, NY Town Board unanimously passed a resolution committing the town to an open government policy. To implement this policy an Open Government Advisory Board consisting of citizens and a designated department head will work to make more information available to the public on-line. While communities across the country are undertaking similar . . . → Read More: Every Community Should Have An Open Government Advisory Board
Very few citizens have a good understanding of their local government’s budget. While many municipalities put their budgets on-line, they often consist of hundreds of hard to understand pages of numbers.
Erie County New York’s operating budget is 405 pages long. The summary of the budget released by the County Executive, which is . . . → Read More: Making Financial Information Understandable to the Public
We need more citizen participation at the local government level. The National Research Center (NRC), a firm that conducts citizen surveys for more than 200 communities, compiled data on the types of residents who are most active. Overall, only 19 percent of Americans recently surveyed contacted their local elected officials over a 12-month . . . → Read More: How Do We Encourage More Citizen Participation With Local Government?
According to Robert Freeman the head of the New York State Committee on Open Government, one of the most common reason government officials make it difficult to obtain information is that they do not want to be embarrassed.
I have filed several Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests and have experienced first . . . → Read More: Making Freedom Of Information Requests Transparent
The Buffalo Common Council has a Taxicab Committee and the City Code has 12 pages devoted to the regulation of taxicabs. The City Council actually decides and must approve taxicab rates. In addition to approving rates, the Council controls how many taxicab licenses can be issued by limiting the number of taxicabs to . . . → Read More: Does The Public Need To Be Protected Regarding Taxicabs?
The Partnership for Public Service a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving how the federal government works, does a survey every year regarding innovation.
The survey asks federal employees three interesting questions regarding creativity and innovation:
- Do you feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things?
- Are . . . → Read More: Measuring Innovation In Government
Many communities around the country large and small are taking proactive steps to operate their local government in a more open and transparent way. A first step is often the passage of a resolution that commits the municipality to open government and the formation of a committee devoted to developing an open government . . . → Read More: Williamsville Passes Open Government Policy
The City of Boca Raton Florida (population 87,000), has begun implementing Lean. Lean is a process for continuous improvement that many organizations in the public and private sector have adopted. As stated in their first Lean Newsletter:
Lean: Lean is about rethinking what we do and how we do it. Lean is a . . . → Read More: Boca Raton Goes Lean
Some cities like Oakland are committed to open government and some cities like Buffalo are not. In previous posts I have discussed the problem with obtaining information from the City of Buffalo.
The City of Oakland working with Code For America have created a great app called RecordTrac. RecordTrac provides an easy on-line . . . → Read More: Oakland Creates An Open Government Tool