The purpose of this paper has been to provide context for, and recommend the adoption of, a shared agenda for regional civic innovation in the Sacramento Metropolitan Area. The recommendations listed below fall into two categories (1) core recommendations to set the vision and structure for civic innovation to flourish, and (2) a set of future considerations that may accelerate the growth of our regional civic innovation ecosystem.
The region’s local government bodies should adopt a resolution in support of a regional agenda modeled after the Draft Regional Civic Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Agenda in Appendix A.
The region should establish a multi-sector stakeholder advisory body to advise the region’s local, state, and federal agencies on open data and civic innovation. The advisory body should:
a. Consist of local government staff, leaders of civic organizations, representatives from academia, and members of the entrepreneurship community;
b. Be charged with coordinating open data initiatives and developing civic data standards to support interoperability across all levels of government;
c. Develop and adopt a one-year action plan for the purposes of achieving quick and early wins;
d. Identify areas in which state statute or regulations inhibit civic innovation; and,
e. Identify ways in which civic startups and social enterprises can more easily do business with government through procurement reform.
Financial resources to establish and support a regional civic innovation fund;
Staff support to carry out special projects within interagency and multi-sector delivery teams;
Physical space to support experimentation;
Knowledge sharing about opportunities to reduce costs and improve outcomes in the delivery of public services; and,
Opportunities for the public to solve community problems in partnership with government.
Actions for future consideration by the advisory body, along with state and local agencies, include:
Develop and adopt a regional approach to publishing open data;
Create an entrepreneurs-in-residence program that would bring entrepreneurs into government who would propose, develop, and deploy solutions to reduce costs, improve outcomes, and boost local economic development;
Develop initiatives to facilitate ethnography, user research, and usability testing to improve citizen-government interaction;
Explore opportunities to build open application programming interfaces (APIs) that reduce the number of interagency friction points, including those between the state-local relationship;
Encourage the state to create an advisory body that would explore the state’s role in supporting civic innovation at the state-level;
Adopt design principles to guide the development of interfaces to government and service delivery;
Create positions in government that require skill sets from the new economy such as user experience, visual design, and product management;
Build capacity for the pursuit of side projects by public servants that have the potential to reduce costs and improve outcomes;
Identify the role of universities in supporting regional civic innovation;
Create a marketplace for government to post problems and citizens to propose cost-effective solutions; and,
Fundamentally redesign the public meeting experience and recommend changes to state law in areas that would otherwise prevent the vision from being fully realized.
Appendix B contains a comprehensive framework put forth by the Harvard Kennedy’s School of Government’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, as reference.
Appendix C contains the executive order that created Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics – a public sector innovation lab, also as reference.