Who’d be on your Open Government team?

Like Samuel L. Jackson, I’m putting together an elite team of superheroes… an OpenGov team!

This will be an internal team at the City of Reno, made up of existing staff. The team’s mission would be to identify and implement opportunities to share data & information, as well as develop policies and procedures related to transparency.

Question is – who should I recruit? I’ll be leading the team as the city’s Web Services Manager.

A response from someone on Twitter said to include a front-line staff person, which I never thought of. Our Assistant City Manager wants to be involved – giving us the status of having support of the city’s #2. Should a citizen from the community be on the committee?

What positions would be top on the list for YOUR open government team?

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Jason Hibbets

I think you’ll want to identify what you want your team to do, then fill it with the talents you’ll need. +1 to involving a few citizens who would be willing to participate. You just have a hackathon there recent;y, surely there are a few candidates that would jump at this opportunity.

When the City of Raleigh web team was looking to create an advisory board for website improvements, they were able to gather a cross-functional team of power users and web experts who helped guide them and helped set priorities. I think it’s all about what you what to accomplish and who can step up to the plate and help you achieve your goals.



I’d want key agency/business units leader who “got it” – and the folks that had the interesting data people would care about. The business units that citizens dealt with the most.

At least one comm/public affairs person.

A lawyer.

I’d want at least one tech lead who can make some of ideas happen.

Chris Poirier

Open Government as a Start Up:

I’d want my team to be “lean and mean.” Similar to a tech start up I’d want that small team that has the bases covered, but has the fire to succeed in a limiting environment. (Times are tough and government should learn from the tech sector about how to operate lean and with passion.) So, much like @GovLoop I’d want my Comms/PA/PR person, my legal support, a leader (entrepreneur), the money person (accountant, etc.), tech team (data management, web dev/design, and architecture), and administrative support to link it all together.

Terri Jones

I might add some public policy expertise to manage the discussion of what open government is in a theoretical way. You will need your website as a tool, ECM to digitize the documents and then some principles to help the city staff actively add to the body of documents that are available through your website. Having someone who can explain on a theoretical level what the city is trying to do with their open government initiative can hopefully train each staff person to understand how to apply it. This is key because it is a big job and just creating the web piece isn’t enough if constituents are pumped up to go there and there is no content. The content is really the documents of government, web applications, etc. and a broad understanding of the initiative, and someone who can work to push that out to all staff is both a transformative strategy AND a way to ensure that the infrastructure we build from an IT perspective isn’t an empty shell.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Go for some externals. Scholars in the field but, much more importantly, citizens who will benefit from Open Government.

Chris Poirier

@Bill: This is a great point! Include the “end user” on the team. Best to have someone on hand that can give you a flavor of what people like, are looking for, etc.

Brian K. Stephenson

This sounds like a great project management project. I would include the front line worker, the customer, a facilitator, an IT guy/gal and stakeholders.

Jeff Ribeira

I agree that involving citizens is key, but I’d probably approach it as having them function more as consultants than part of the core team. Stepping in only periodically for testing and/or feedback on a proposal, app, or whatever else comes up. Even then, it seems like you would need at least a few of these external consultants so you don’t have a single individual (and therefore a single demographic, socio-economic class, political view, etc.), speaking for the entire city. Now, getting citizens who actually can help in creating these applications (i.e. tech stuff) is a different thing altogether and like Jason said, can really be a great opportunity to diversify your team. Another skill set that I would add that I don’t think has been mentioned is statistician/mathematician. Critical, in my opinion, when regularly dealing with large amounts of data.

Joe Williams

I suggest three steps for building your elite team: (1) The right skills. Determine the technical expertise you’ll need and make sure you select team members that cover the critical areas. (2) The right aptitude. Find people who believe in your organization’s mission and are committed to its future. Find those who work well on teams. (3) The right instincts. Here, you want to diversify the natural problem-solving talents, since people solve problems differently. Conversely, choosing people who tend to solve problems the same way will lead to disaster. Balance people who seek details with those who can get to the bottom line. Balance people who are good organizers with those who can find shortcuts. Balance people who believe in the status quo with those who can find the possibilities from anywhere. Balance people who are abstract with those who are concrete. These are the three steps I use in forming my teams – hope you are successful.