The Public Ethics Commission approved a report evaluating Oakland's transparency at the Commission's public meeting on January 6, 2014. The Commission is pleased to release Toward Collaborative Transparency.
The Public Ethics Commission initiated the Transparency Project to assess Oakland City government’s current openness and transparency, facilitate improvements, and recommend actions to further the Commission's goals of ensuring fairness, openness, honesty, and integrity in City government. The goal of the Transparency Project was to outline a vision for transparency and open government in Oakland.
On Tuesday, June 25, we heard from you! The Public Ethics Commission held an informational hearing
in the City Council Chambers, to explore current practices and emerging trends in open government. Speakers discussed open government concepts, shared examples of innovations in government transparency, and responded to questions from Commissioners and the public (watch complete meeting on KTOP
or watch complete meeting with reaction timeline on Vuact
). Members of the public also provided input through a number of public engagement platforms.
Check out this article
by Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana.
Open government is at the core of the PEC's goal of ensuring fairness, openness, honesty, and integrity in City government. This Transparency Project seeks to leverage the momentum generated this past year by City staff and community members around projects that seek to open up City government and bridge the gap between government services and community needs and participation. Last year, the City's new Online Engagement Manager spearheaded projects such as Oakland's open data platform and the Code for America fellowship program that is leading to the creation of a technology tool to facilitate public records requests. Meanwhile, civic technologists formed OpenOakland, a Code for America Brigade, where volunteer hackers and City staff can join efforts to bring City data and information to light. At the same time, the Public Ethics Commission began to focus on proactive and collaborative approaches to enhancing government integrity, with transparency as a top priority. In December 2012, the PEC co-sponsored CityCamp Oakland and participated in the day-long discussion where Sunshine laws (open meetings and public records) generated widespread interest.
Following the December CityCamp event, the Public Ethics Commission launched a subcommittee to review the City's system of responding to public records requests. In January, 2013, the PEC outlined a recommended framework
for an ideal public records system for the City which now is guiding the activities of an internal City staff team, including PEC staff, working in partnership to develop a public records request policy, procedures, guide and training tools as outlined in the framework. The shared goal of the team is to create a seamless and effective public records response system. The team also is assisting the Code for America fellows in creating a technology tool to facilitate public records requests.
Given the progress being made by staff to improve the City's system of providing access to public records, the PEC's subcommittee initiated this Transparency Project in March, 2013, to go beyond access to public records and examine how the City can achieve greater transparency and open government overall. Government transparency trends nationally seek to provide not just greater access, customer service, and performance, but also enhanced participation and engagement by citizens. In that light, the PEC is trying out new tools as part of this project to facilitate interaction and dialogue around transparency needs here in Oakland. We encourage you to join in this timely and transformational discussion.
An outcome of the Transparency Project will be a final report issued by the Public Ethics Commission that incorporates what we heard throughout this process, including citizen feedback through our engagement methods, and outlines recommendations to Oakland City government in pursuing greater transparency and open government. Given the Commission's current staffing level, competing priorities, and the process required for developing the report, the Commission anticipates potential completion of the report by Fall 2013.
Technologies Promoting Open Government
This Hearing explored innovations in open government and tried out the following technologies
to solicit citizen input:
- ENGAGE OAKLAND is an online civic engagement platform to encourage citizen feedback and drive solutions.
- OAKLAND ANSWERS is a citizen-focused website that is question-driven, with clean, easy-to-navigate design. Website users can ask a question or type in keywords using plain language and receive simple, friendly and concise responses, as though talking to a neighbor.