Six Tech Policies We Want Every Candidate for Federal Office to Support
OpenGov interacts with political leaders from both sides of the aisle every day in our efforts to set a new standard for how governments analyze, share, and compare financial data. We encourage officials of all political stripes to embrace innovation and accountability – and we take every opportunity to showcase leadership initiatives that advance technology and transparency policies that push our country forward.
Several months ago, we were honored to host House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at our office to highlight the House GOP’s Innovation Agenda and identify ways the tech community can support this important initiative.
Today, we are shining the spotlight on Hillary Clinton’s technological innovation policy platform designed to help governments leverage technology to improve efficiency, foster civic engagement, and build public trust.
Secretary Clinton joins a growing bipartisan list of leaders with initiatives focused on retaining America’s technological competitiveness and its government’s connections with citizens in the digital age.
There are six pillars in Secretary Clinton’s platform that are worthy of special recognition:
1. Empowering women and minorities to pursue STEM degrees: Teams with diverse members contribute different perspectives that lead to better code, better products, and better value for consumers. Unfortunately, too few technology companies benefit from these contributions because too few women and minorities have a STEM background. Secretary Clinton’s emphasis on increasing diversity in STEM fields will go a long way in improving the numbers and spread diversity’s benefits across the nation.
2. Expanding access to broadband connectivity: Citizens increasingly use cloud technology for core tasks such as applying for jobs, furthering their education, writing reports, paying bills, and interacting with government. This makes internet access more important than ever; efforts like Secretary Clinton’s initiative could ensure all citizens, regardless of socioeconomic status, can benefit from connectivity.
Governments also need to do a better job connecting themselves – every day, we deal with organizations with poor connectivity within their own walls. Better broadband infrastructure within government buildings will enable the public sector to fully leverage cloud computing’s benefits, just as countless private sector industries have.
3. Making government more user-friendly: Unfortunately, antiquated technology and confusing user interfaces plague too many citizen-government interactions. President Obama made many government sites more accessible and intuitive, on both desktop and mobile devices. We support Secretary Clinton’s proposal to expand these efforts.
In fact, governments themselves benefit from intuitive online services – millennials used to streamlined interfaces on their smartphones are more likely to enter and engage with public service if an agency embraces modern technology and design.
4. Streamlining procurement processes: Complex and long procurement processes make it difficult for nimble, innovative companies to offer governments the technology needed to improve operations and engage citizens effectively and efficiently. Reducing procurement barriers would lower costs and eliminate reliance on large vendors selling outdated tools.
5. Opening more government data for public use: We can all agree that as citizens, we should hold the federal government accountable, but until recently, few citizens could evaluate how well the government does its job because data was stuck in static PDFs and spreadsheets – often buried deep within public sites. These barriers also prevented entrepreneurs from using public data to craft new businesses or offer solutions.
As a country, we took a big step forward when agencies were directed to make their data structured and machine-readable under the current administration. By pledging to fully implement the DATA Act and increase the ease with which citizens can access government information, proposals like Secretary Clinton’s will give citizens – and internal stakeholders – the opportunity for new insights into government operations and abilities to leverage the data for innovation.
At OpenGov, we’ve worked closely with the Data Coalition to promote Open Data policies such as the DATA Act, and we’re excited to see public officials from both parties and candidates like Secretary Clinton support these efforts.
6. Focusing on performance: Like in the private sector, government managers need to ensure that financial investments of taxpayer dollars lead to tangible benefits. Emphasizing dashboards that link financials to performance is an essential part of any innovation initiative, and we commend Secretary Clinton for recognizing this.
We are encouraged by the attention technology and innovation policies are receiving at the highest levels, and we will continue to highlight and applaud pro-technology leaders willing to discuss and promote innovation at the federal level.
All parties and candidates should be able to agree on innovation policies because they will position America, and its government, for success in the years and decades ahead.
When it comes to our country’s most pressing challenges, the federal government certainly must lead and help develop solutions, yet as citizens, we must demand innovation from state and local governments because they operate ‘closest to home.’ State and local governments manage schools, maintain roadways, provide clean water and sewer systems, and establish fire and police protection – among countless other services.
So, this election season, we should ask each candidate for federal office how they plan to promote innovation at the federal level and how they will empower cities, regions, and states with the newest digital technology. We need to urge them to support pro-technology policies so innovation can reach every level of government.