When we co-founded OpenGov two years ago, I was living in a shipping container in Afghanistan while serving as an advisor on the Anti-Corruption Task Force. My partners were technologists from Stanford University and together we embarked on a mission—to build the most powerful web-based business intelligence platform for the world’s most important industry: government.
More than any other industry, government provides services that affect our lives. Yet governments remain the most underserved by technology. For example, the state-of-the-art in financial communication consists of multi-hundred page budget PDFs hanging on government websites (or Excel spreadsheets with tens of thousands of rows of accounting data). We decided to dive in, because governments represent a huge market and because more transparency and better BI will benefit communities across the country.
State and local governments in the U.S. spend approximately $3.7 trillion. The federal government spends $3.5 trillion. Few people know where the money goes or even how their governments work. That’s a problem for democracy. Citizens need to work with their governments in relationships of trust and understanding.
On the inside, senior executives running organizations are charged with tremendous responsibility. These professionals need access to financial data, analytics, and communication tools to do their jobs and ensure operational spending stays within budget. Successfully managing departments, large teams of people, and millions (or billions) of dollars requires good technology.
OpenGov improves workflows for insiders and understanding for outsiders. In late 2012, we released an Annual Reporting capability to a tremendous response. The tool allows executives and citizens to trace the flow of revenues and expenses—budgeted and historical—throughout highly complicated organizations, from departments down through divisions, programs, and objects. Governments, including their CEOs (or “Managers”) and CFOs (or “Finance Directors”), across the globe took interest in the offering and shared with us feedback and other needs we could address.
As our team grows, so has input from our customers. Nearly 100 cities, counties, state agencies, school districts, and special purpose governments (transit, sanitation, water) leverage the platform, share their use-cases with us, and provide insight that influences future development. OpenGov sees itself as a partner for governments.
Our latest features allow for Current-Year Reporting, allowing one to see the variances between the budget and actual expenditures on a month-over-month basis, and Transactional Reporting, allowing for granular views right to the line-item or purchase order.
We are just getting started. With more than 90,000 state and local governments in the U.S., the market is large and good software is in need. To scale the business and meet growing demand, we are excited to announce our Series B investment. The premier Silicon Valley venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz has led the investment into OpenGov, which totals nearly $15m. A16Z’s newest General Partner, Balaji S. Srinivasan, a former Professor of Statistics at Stanford University and co-founder and CTO of Counsyl, will join our board of directors.
By working closely with investors (a16z, Formation 8, and Thrive Capital), advisors (Secretary Schultz, Senator Dorgan, Mayor Fenty, and executives from Intuit, Yahoo!, and Microsoft), and government partners (ranging from the City of Los Angeles to Harper County Kansas), OpenGov will develop and release new features into what has already become the most powerful financial transparency and web-based business intelligence software for the government enterprise.
Government technology that’s fast, easy, and affordable? Yes.
As I reflect on the past two years, I am humbled by the teammates and luminaries that have rallied to this mission; the depth and quality of the software we are shipping; and the challenges that our government customers and potential customers face every day. To earn the trust and business of the public sector, we must act with respect, insight, and support in every engagement.
Our internal values of trust, excellence, resourcefulness, and passion will guide us in the years ahead. We see shared values in our customers, investors, and advisors. OpenGov is proud to work in this space and thrilled to be backed in our Series B by Andreessen Horowitz, Formation 8, and Thrive Capital. It’s going to be a great journey ahead.