Feedback on Technology Items in City of Austin Budget

I'm down at City Hall, waiting for the hearing on the city's FY2014 budget.

Here are my notes on feedback I want to share with the City Council, regarding budget for some technology-related matters.

Digital Inclusion

  • Opportunities are gathering to enhance digital capabilities and equity in our community:
    • Addition of a fourth wireline broadband provided (Google)
    • Two providers committed to gigabit residential (Google and AT&T)
    • Google Fiber Community Connections Program
    • Involved community partners such as Austin Free-Net and Skillpoint Alliance
    • We should take advantage of these circumstances
  • Support two Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission recommendations.
  • Ongoing: support tasking TARA to develop a strategic digital inclusion plan

Open Government and Civic Technology

  • Concerned about lack of civic tech initiatives in the FY14 budget
  • CTM budget process is “customer driven”. Who is the customer (i.e. which department) for civic tech?
  • The “Office of Civic Innovation” funded FY2013 (awaiting implementation) could play this role
  • Commission recommendation 20130612-010 proposes some “shovel ready” ideas
  • Hope for a fuller discussion at Aug 28 Audit and Finance Committee meeting
  • (In my verbal comments, I noted that the Dec 2011 Open Government resolution passed by City Council calls for an open government framework proposal with a funding plan, and we've now gone two budget cycles without getting that funding plan.)

Office of Civic Innovation

  • Proposal presented by Open Austin in Aug 2012
  • Council approved $250K “seed funding” for FY2013
  • FY2014 budget includes $251K and 2 FTEs for “Innovation Office” in Financial Services budget
  • Community has been excluded from development of this proposal
  • First community contact was at July 2013 CTTC meeting, at conclusion of development phase, to kick-off recruiting effort
  • Concern: current direction is focused on bringing innovation to city processes (which is good), but to the determent of the community engagement role originally envisioned
  • Request: Council redirect these funds for the civic technology innovation effort as proposed and funded back in FY2013

Aug 23 update: Video of my testimony is here, starting at 17:52.