Thursday, September 09, 2010

Fw: [DW] Civic Commons - Sharing Technology for the Public Good

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-----Original Message-----
From: Steven Clift <>
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 2010 08:04:25
To: newswire<>; <>; <>; sunlightlabs<>
Subject: [DW] Civic Commons - Sharing Technology for the Public Good

This is a really big deal - for years I've talked about how it is
impossible for one local government to justify subsidizing the
technology needs of other governments. Bundling up, sharing, and
supporting code just can't be paid solely by one jurisdiction's
taxpayers. The Civic Commons has the potential to grease the wheel and
allow some real sharing. Key is to find resources and partners to
bolster the support for sharing and to recognize that "civic code"
used by a government in one place, might be used by a non-profit in
another, etc. I think "e-democracy/e-participation" tools for example
could benefit strongly from these efforts.

One thing we are contributing to this "space," working with OpenPlans
on (a lead Civic Commons partner) is a simple online group for locally
minded technologists - those in government, citizen geeks, etc. - if
you code, design, etc. join up:

Steven Clift

P.S. In Europe they have - - "The Open Source
Observatory and Repository for European public administrations (OSOR)
is a platform for exchanging information, experiences and FLOSS-based
code for use in public administrations." Hey, time to meet.



In the face of budget crises, government entities at every level must
cut costs and find efficiencies. An enormous opportunity lies in their
IT infrastructure — the technology they require to provide their
citizens essential services. For the most part, each city, county,
state, agency and office builds or buys their technology solutions
independently, creating huge redundancies in civic software and
wasting millions of tax-payer dollars. They should be able to work
together. An independent non-profit organization, Civic Commons will
help these institutions share code and best practices, reform
procurement practices, and learn to function not only as a provider of
services but as a platform to which an ecosystem of industry can add
value for government and its citizens.

Civic Commons is a collaboration between many organizations, including:

Code for America, OpenPlans

[ is signing on as a supporter as well - Steve]

What We Do
Civic Commons is just starting as an organization, however, we are
committed to the following:

* Facilitating the sharing of code among government entities, with
an eye towards developing an "Open Civic Stack"
* Connecting governments throughout all phases of technology
procurement, and building systems for more transparent & informed
technology choices
* Developing and supporting Open Data and Open Standards as
foundations of an "Open Civic API"
* Spreading government technology best practices
* Building a community of "civic hackers" and give them clear
opportunities to assist in the development of government technology

Values & Principles

The following principles guide the development of Civic Commons' activities:

* Be Agile. While being inclusive and open, retain the ability to
move quickly and prove ideas through actions
* Be a Connector
* Never get in the way. For efforts that are already successfully
under way, Civic Commons' role is to be an information exchange, to
provide discoverability, and to provide advice where needed; not to
set up barriers or process requirements


Sep 8th, 2010
Announcing Civic Commons
by Jennifer Pahlka
Jennifer Pahlka

Today we are here at the Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington DC for the
exciting announcement of the Code for America project for DC. The
project is called Civic Commons, and it's a way to help governments
share software they have developed, and thereby reduce IT costs,
foster collaboration, and spur innovation.


Finally Bryan got a gleam in his eye and said, "You know, DC doesn't
need another cool software project. What we need is a way to share
what we have with other cities, and for them to be able to share what
they build with us." When Tim suggested that the Code for America
Fellows assigned to DC could focus on solving this bigger problem,
Bryan jumped at the chance.


Steven Clift -
  Executive Director - http://E-Democracy.Org
  Follow me -
  New Tel: +1.612.234.7072

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