This morning the New America Foundation released a comprehensive Gov 2.0 report about how California’s local governments are using technology to connect with the public and improve services. “Hear Us Now? A California Survey of Digital Technology’s Role in Civic Engagement and Local Government” is a survey of 41 different innovations from across the state, including the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District’s app, which we’re helping spread across the country, Santa Cruz’s participatory budget process, San Francisco’s open-data clearinghouse, and more.
One of the report’s top recommendations is for communities to implement a version of the Federal IT Dashboard — the technology that we at Civic Commons helped the OMB open source earlier this year. The Dashboard tracks government technology spending — allowing the public to monitor how money is being spent. Earlier this year, it was estimated that the IT Dashboard had saved $3 billion. The New America Foundation recommended using the IT Dashboard as tool to track performance measures and metrics:
Local agencies express confidence that their use of technology helps them save time and money, increase public engagement, or improve services. But these agencies often lack objective performance criteria and hard data to quantify these benefits. Developing quantitative metrics and performance criteria and using them to measure the outcome of these projects would help improve our knowledge base, guide ongoing management, and increase accountability.
Many localities, for example, could benefit from implementing the IT dashboard — a technology package developed for the federal government’s IT.USAspending.gov, and made freely available by Civic Commons in March 2011. And while cost savings are critical, tools and standards for measuring communities’ information needs — and the inclusivity and effectiveness of the projects being proposed — are needed as well.
The report is worth reading in full, and is available, along with a dynamic map of key successes in the state, at New America: http://newamerica.net/publications/policy/hear_us_now