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California Moving Forward

December 31, 2013
by Jacque Porte

The internet has forever changed the way people interact with the world around them, and has raised citizens’ expectations of government’s ability to share information and connect with the people. California in particular has made significant strides in fostering transparency and digital government, which comes as no surprise as it is the birthplace of many leaders in information technology.

Robb Korinke of California Forward (CAFwd) recently shared his thoughts on transparency and the state of open data in California. Korinke’s active role in the organization, focused on working with citizens to create a smarter government, gives him a unique perspective on how transparency has progressed in the past few years, and where it may go in the near future.

Korinke observed that open data is a concept that has steadily “become more ‘expected’ by the general public,” but there is room for improvement. He pointed out that the Secretary of State’s recent decision to release bulk campaign finance data in a daily downloadable file, widely touted as a ‘win’ for California, is a “small step forward,” explaining that “the process for acquiring and leveraging this information is not yet to contemporary standards.”

In addition to bringing California transparency into the 21st century, CAFwd is working to make information from special districts more available. Special districts provide essential everyday services but knowledge of how this gets done is not widely available. CAFwd has partnered with the CA Special Districts Association to create a portal that will make more information about these special districts available to the public.

Korinke also noted that making information available is only part of the battle: “There are so many levels of government, and their operations often complex and layered, that many people -- I believe -- aren't sure what information is important, or what questions to ask.”

When asked about his vision for 2014, Korinke emphasized the need to modernize state infrastructure “with respect to data and the management of vital information,” and specifically mentioned the need to move away from “siloed operations and paper-based transactions.”

Korinke’s thoughts are easily expanding to state and local governments across the United States, but while local governments feel the same pressure to move aware from paper-based transactions, make their processes more efficient, and be more transparent, they often lack the resources necessary to make this transition.

If you’re considering such initiatives for your own government agency and don’t know where to begin, please check out how our products can help provide you with openness and save you time and money to boot!

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