Paley Center’s ‘Next Big Thing’: Open Gov

Erin Gromen is senior director of special initiatives and programming at The Paley Center for Media.

In his book “Why Government Fails So Often, And How It Can Do Better,” Peter Schuck asserts “the government has largely ignored the ‘moneyball’ revolution, in which private-sector decisions are increasingly based on hard data.”

But are there untold stories of success in Washington and in cities around the country? Has the promise of the federal government’s open government initiatives achieved key milestones in transparency, access to and use of government information and services? What is needed to accelerate? Does the lack of “core plumbing”—practices, standards and systems—stand in the way?

With support from Knight Foundation, the Nov. 6 installment of The Paley Center for Media’s Next Big Thing series will explore these questions.  A “state of the union” will help us take stock of what’s working and the new initiatives that are accelerating success. A “reality check” conversation will explore the question of how citizen interaction and experience with government is kept center stage. Pitch sessions and Q&As with leading technologists will look at core plumbing solutions and innovative citizen engagement initiatives.

The Next Big Thing in Open Government caps our Knight-funded series of forums dedicated to exploring the role of media in fostering government transparency and civic engagement.  The series included a preview of “The Internet’s Own Boy,” the documentary about the life and legacy of open-internet activist Aaron Swartz, and a conversation between the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman and former NSA counsel Robert Deitz, among others, on the balance between national security and press freedom.  Additionally, we collaborated with the Knight-funded media accelerator to showcase its current group of startups—where we first saw Next Big Thing presenter LocalData—to our community of New York media executives and Silicon Valley investors.

Here’s a bit on the featured participants for The Next Big Thing in Open Government:

Jennifer Pahlka, the founder of Code for America, recently served as the U.S. deputy chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Chris Gates, the new president of the Sunlight Foundation, is a leading voice for strengthening democratic processes and structures and developing new approaches to both engagement and decision making.

Kathy Conrad is the acting associate administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, where she is leading the development and implementation of shared solutions and services. The office is home to 18F, a startup within the General Services Administration recruited from private and the public sector to “hack bureaucracy.”  

Andrew Hoppin, a former CIO of the New York State Senate, founder and CEO of NuCivic, a suite of open source solutions that help governments and nonprofit organizations host and manage open data, app store and hackathon platforms.

Waldo Jaquith, an open data pioneer, is the first director of the U.S. Open Data Institute, funded by Knight Foundation. The institute’s call to action? “Need help opening your data? We’re here to help. No charge, no contracts, no trouble.”

Seamus Kraft launched the OpenGov Foundation with California Congressman Darrell Issa in 2011. The “scrappy little outfit working to open government” recently launched MadisonDC, a beta version of OpenGov’s collaborative drafting platform in the District of Columbia.

Pitch presenters include Hillary Hartley, co-founder and lead designer, presenting the most recent work of the GSA’s 18F team; Jason Bobe, executive director of; LocalData founder Matt Hampel, and Seth Flaxman, co-founder of TurboVote.

This event will be live-streamed. For more information and to view the stream on Nov. 6, visit PaleyImpact Series panel: The Delicate Balance – Media, Security and Freedom in a Post 9/11 World on Sept. 22, 2014 in New York.