Category Archives: Life at OpenGov

Secretary George Shultz Visits OpenGov; Talks Budgeting

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Today, OpenGov was honored to host Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and OpenGov Co-Founder and Chairman Joe Lonsdale for a fireside chat with our Co-Founder and CEO, Zac Bookman. The OpenGov team huddled for an hour to listen and ask questions as the trio discussed world affairs and shared stories.

The conversation ranged from the expected to the sentimental. Secretary Shultz reaffirmed his simultaneous desires not to endorse a presidential candidate and to help the next president craft foreign policy. He also revealed a regret millions share: not writing to his mother more. A portrait of her hangs in the Secretary’s office.

Most of the talk, however, centered on a topic that rarely makes the front page. Or page two. But the topic enables effective, competent government. It puts uniforms on soldiers, repairs our bridges, and educates our children.

It’s the budget process. The annual or biannual cycle governments use to allocate public money and implement policies that citizens’ elected representatives enact.

As Director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1970-1972, Secretary Shultz helped craft the President’s budget proposal and manage budget negotiations with Congress. The budget process today is broken at all levels of government: the last time Congress passed all 12 appropriation bills to fund federal agencies on time was 1996. In The Coming Transformation, Joe and Zac write how “government administration and security realms rely on closed platforms with slow back-office processes and excess manual data entry.”

Secretary Shultz reaffirmed the magnitude of these challenges. Because of inadequate budgeting tools that do not enable true collaboration, budgeting power has become too centralized in the White House. Secretary Shultz explained how centralization over-politicizes the budget process, limits input from those closest to government operations, and prevents the natural inter- and intra-agency negotiations necessary to any budget process. He believes that, by making budgeting more collaborative and inclusive, the budget process can create a more operational instead of partisan climate – achieving improved operational effectiveness.

We agree, and believe all levels of government can benefit from better budgeting:

  • A recent article explains how Greenwood, Indiana’s Police Department discovered using modern budgeting software that its 2017 budget “did not account for enough police cars to accommodate an extended staff. Finding the money for the squad cars was much easier than it would have been before Budget Builder. ‘We collectively made additional reductions on certain items based on the past in order to accumulate money to buy those cars,’ [Greenwood’s Controller Adam] Stone said.” In other words, Budget Builder caught an error before it happened, saving hours of clerical work and a scramble to find funds in during the year.
  • Burnet, Texas used modern budgeting software to cut time spent on the budget’s clerical work in half, creating more time for the collaboration and strategic thinking necessary to craft and implement effective policy.

An excerpt of a fireside chat with Secretary Shultz, OpenGov Co-Founder and Chairman Joe Lonsdale, and OpenGov Co-Founder and CEO Zac Bookman

Imagine successes like Greenwood’s and Burnet’s across the world, at every level of government. These triumphs are what Secretary Shultz repeatedly emphasized will restore effective, competent government. This is the vision we at OpenGov work every day to achieve.

We thank Secretary Shultz and Joe for joining us today, sharing stories, and inspiring our team.

Make Your Mark: Data Strategists for Government

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Ready to learn about OpenGov’s Customer Success team? Read on to see how Customer Success Analysts serve on the frontlines modernizing government technology.

  • Municipal governments in Ohio use data published on OpenGov to compare vendor prices across jurisdictions and ensure they receive fair prices.
  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania gives managers current insights using OpenGov to inform planning with relevant information. For example, the county is using payroll data loaded in OpenGov to assess gender pay equity.
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin increases Council and public buy-in into its capital improvement plan to address urgent infrastructure challenges.

These benefits are not unique; over a thousand governments inform strategic planning, manage operations, and foster public trust with OpenGov. Many of our customers had software that trapped insights in departments and blocked everyone but trained analysts from gaining the insights they needed. Now, they’re informing decisions with comprehensive intelligence.

All of our teams help governments make this leap into the digital age, but it’s Customer Success that serves on the frontlines every day – strategizing with governments to meet their needs and ensuring they are quickly and properly set up on OpenGov. In this post, you’ll learn about one of team’s two main roles: the Customer Success Analyst.

Customer Success Analyst (CSA) 101

CSAs work with new customers to map their financial data to OpenGov. This work is mission-critical for the company and for customers because a proper mapping ensures governments can explore data as needed to learn from it.

But it’s a mistake to assume CSAs just crunch numbers – the role also involves strategic thinking and relationship management; helping customers think through their OpenGov objectives and implementation determines their future success on the platform.

CSAs are passionate about empowering governments. Alysa Zyda spent years working in government and shares how she’s motivated by “wanting to bring the best tools to my former coworkers. By working here, I can build the tools that I always wished I had.”

Diversity breeds success

CSAs come from a broad range of backgrounds. Some, such as Alysa, have previous government experience, while others come from the private sector, like Christine Liu who was a Project Analyst for an Infrastructure Engineering Design Firm.

Diverse experiences position the team for success – CSA Henry Tsao explains how “people with different backgrounds can help each other remove the tunnel vision we get from our own backgrounds.”

But there’s at least one area with near-uniformity…

Nearly 75% of CSAs prefer Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups over chocolate kisses, licorice, and gummy bears. Maybe this is why CSA Becca Rosengarten considers “everyone on the team a good friend of mine.”

A day as a CSA

Becca explains how, every day, “I get to spend a lot of time with our customers, helping them through their deployment and making sure that they get the most value out of OpenGov. I also spend a ton of time getting creative in Excel, and I love it!”

Henry adds, “Being a Customer Success Analyst involves analyzing the best way to design processes for the customer to make them successful using OpenGov. This includes: systematically analyzing their financial data, identifying their pain-points, and creatively thinking of strategies to alleviate those pain points.”

CSA Becca Rosengarten helps a customer implement OpenGov.

Data drives success

Henry explains how data is critical to a CSA’s success:

“We have to build credibility with our customers with our knowledge of their data. If we don’t have a solid understanding, the client will notice immediately and be that much less willing to work with us.

OpenGov empowers governments to visualize and analyze historical trends just by loading data into the platform. Therefore, it’s important for us to make sure the customer’s data is properly formatted and inputted into the platform.”

A role of constant learning

Because OpenGov is a rapidly-growing startup, our CSAs explore product development, marketing, sales, and more – broadening their knowledge every day.

Interested in learning more? Contact our talent team at jobs@opengov.com and follow us on LinkedIn!

Why it’s awesome to be on the OpenGov sales team

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We love our sales development team. The small, but mighty team (Raj, Steve and Hannah, pictured above) works closely with account executives to drive success. And they play a vital role in delivering the company’s mission to transform how government works.

OpenGov was founded on the belief that new web technologies could advance the business of government – a sector notoriously underserved by technology. Our company is hard at work developing the platform to power 21st century government and the sales team is tasked with getting these tools into the hands of public administrators across the country.

We sat down with Hannah Shahriyari to learn what a typical day looks like for an OpenGov SDR.

YA: Why did you join OpenGov?

HS: There are lots of sales development rep roles out there, but few with a mission and purpose like OpenGov. Everyone is so passionate here – it’s inspiring and rewarding work.

YA: So what does an OpenGov SDR actually do?

HS: Sales development reps stand on the front lines of the sales process, explaining the value of OpenGov to prospective government customers and learning the unique challenges our governments face across the country. We serve up the “first impression” to a prospective customer.

YA: What are some of your favorite parts of the job?

HS: One of my favorite parts about being an SDR is working with the account executives. Not only do I feel empowered by working with such a great leadership team, but I also have made mentors and friends. My weekly one-on-one meetings with the account executives sharpen my sales skills and improve my connection with prospects. Every sales win is celebrated as a group, and most importantly, each sales person who contributed to the deal gets acknowledgement. And what better way to celebrate a big sales win than hitting the famous OpenGov Sales Gong?

Pictured above, the OpenGov sales gong. 

YA: We strive to empower our employees to “do their best work”. Is this true for you?

HS: With a few “gong hits” now under my belt, I can absolutely say that I have flourished in my role due to the expertise and mentorship of the leadership team, the carefully crafted sales program that fosters personal growth, and the amazing team culture that we have built. Working at OpenGov, you’ll meet some talented people from a wide range of backgrounds, from engineering at major enterprise companies, to business development at various tech startups, and more. Oh, and did I mention we have catered lunch and dinner every day? Today is my personal favorite, pizza.

In the end, we all want to love what we do and look forward to going to work every day. I can confidently say that I enjoy and fully embrace my working life with OpenGov. After all, the company has a solid product, a stellar exec team, and most importantly, an unmatched drive to achieve success.


Want to join our team? We’re currently recruiting for sales development reps, account executives and more. Check out our careers page for a list of open positions.

What team OpenGov learned from the Navy SEALs

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The OpenGov team welcomed very special guests this past Friday: former and current U.S. Navy SEALs from San Diego, CA. The visit was organized by the Honor Foundation, an organization dedicated to bridging military and private sector careers, and included a number of stops at prominent – and promising – Silicon Valley ventures.

We were absolutely honored to host this extraordinary group. And, while the event began as an introduction to our company, it finished with a lively exchange of ideas about leadership, teamwork and discipline.

How often does one find themselves in an open discussion with our nation’s top military talent? We jumped at the chance to learn from these true American heroes. Through an active and engaged discussion, we discovered that there are many parallels to building successful teams and leadership. Here are the top three things we learned from The SEALs about business and leadership success.

  1. The two keys to driving team success are 1) repetition and 2) repetition. You have to make sure your team is clear on the goal. Eyes on the prize. So dogged repetition of the key mission and objectives is part of the winning recipe.
  2. There is no such thing as de-briefing too much. Debriefing and reviewing the success or failure of a project is absolutely critical. Quite often this is a step that gets overlooked or hastily competed in fast-paced office cultures, but it is one of the most important methods for reviewing what worked and avoiding future pitfalls. And it is just as important if the project was considered a success because there are ALWAYS ways to improve.
  3. Humor can diffuse just about any situation. When you’re in literally life or death situations, it sounds an odd time to crack a joke, but quite often this is precisely the ticket to diffuse tension and get your mind focused on the task at hand. It also builds good camaraderie and a cohesive team unit over time, so everyone pushes their hardest for the good of the team.

To learn more about the great work of the Honor Foundation, head on over to their website.

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Redwood City Mayor Jeffrey Gee helps OpenGov celebrate opening of new HQ

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OpenGov employees, friends, investors and family gathered Thursday evening to toast the company’s new, spacious Redwood City headquarters and experience a taste of some of the cities we’re proud to work with.

The evening kicked-off with a ceremonial ribbon cutting with Redwood City Mayor Jeffrey Gee and OpenGov CEO Zac Bookman. OpenGov advisors Adrian Fenty, the former Mayor of Washington DC and Mark Goines, Partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, and several OpenGov investors also dropped by to celebrate the new space.

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Guests sipped wine from De La Montanya winery and noshed on southern fare representing our Napa and Texas customers respectively while touring the new digs.

Check out all the photos on our Facebook page here.

We Have a New Look!

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You may have noticed that OpenGov has a fresh, new look.  We’re thrilled to unveil a better, brighter, resource-rich website that brings you the latest and greatest on how governments across the country analyze, share, and compare financial information with OpenGov.

Many folks rolled up their sleeves and put in some long hours to make this site happen. We’re especially grateful to the fantastic brand strategy team at Grafik who worked with us to hone the site design and content — from initial concept to final launch.

Fresh resources. New tools.

Our new resources section brings you the latest thinking on financial transparency, civic innovation, and the business of government. Check out our white papers, webinars, and new blog!

Free product tours, whenever you’re ready.

Want to learn more about our cloud-based financial analysis platform, which 275+ governments across the country are using to increase productivity, make data-driven decisions, and achieve greater transparency?  Sign up to have one of our seasoned professionals show you the ropes!

Hear directly from fellow finance managers, administrators, and elected officials.

Learn how fellow finance directors and administrators are streamlining information, building public trust, and saving resources through greater transparency and better technology.

Visit us anytime, anywhere, on any device.  

We realize roughly one in three people access the web at any given time using a mobile device, so the new site is designed as fully responsive and delivers a mobile-friendly, enhanced experience for visitors on a tablet, smart phone, or any other device with an internet connection.

Log into control panel from any page.

Already an OpenGov customer? You can now access control panel from any page. Log in to view your latest platform traffic stats and sources and to analyze your user behavior.

Want to work with one of the smartest and most creative teams on the planet?

Hear what it’s like to work at OpenGov on our careers page. See the great perks that come with being a part of the team. Learn about the values that motivate us around-the-clock.

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OpenGov Helps Hackathon Teams Create Civic Innovation

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There is a special kind of kinetic energy that sparks when you shove 500 computer science and engineering students into a big room and ask them to create something new. Hackathons, by definition, are an against-all-odds event where you learn how to work with people you just met, fight sleep deprivation, and race against the clock to execute an idea you (and your teammates) have just come up with. Focus, collaboration, and flexibility are fundamental to succeeding in a hackathon.

Last month, four OpenGov engineers and I traveled to our alma mater, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), to sponsor a student-organized, two day, 500+ student hackathon called SB Hacks. It was the largest hackathon the school has ever seen and we were lucky to be involved. Special thanks to the talented team of students who organized this event and made it possible. They did a great job bussing in hundreds of out-of-town students and providing a safe, inclusive, and energetic environment. A friend and current professor in Computer Science, Tim Sherwood, said “It’s incredible what these students have done. Doing so much without a hitch amazes me.” I couldn’t agree more.

Leading up to the hackathon, our own team was hacking away on an API created especially for SB Hacks. We loaded our API with financial data, geographic data, and even data from the U.S. Census Bureau. We wanted students to have a wide array of options to work from as they brought their ideas to fruition.

Along with the general hackathon prizes, OpenGov offered a special prize for students who could find interesting, innovative ways to present government data using OpenGov’s API and to benchmark government agencies using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Seven teams competed for the OpenGov prize (Pebble Smartwatches and a pool party!), and these data enthusiasts did not disappoint. We saw everything from an attempt to compare city budgets to visualizing OpenGov data in an Oculus Rift Virtual Reality 3-D headset.

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Leland Lee, a freshman at UC Berkeley majoring in computer science, finished in second place. Lee used OpenGov’s real-time API to build a tool that compares census data quickly across cities. Lee shared later: “The team was amazingly helpful and went beyond the call of duty to offer their coaching and expertise on our projects. And I cannot wait to start working with them to use government data sets to create visualizations that increase transparency. That’s super exciting!”

We’re also thrilled that he is joining the OpenGov engineering team this summer for an internship!

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Leland and me, post hackathon

The top prize went to Andrew Wang, a sophomore Computer Science major (specializing in Bioinformatics) at UCSD, who created an interactive dashboard featuring a map of US cities. The dashboard allows a user to hover over a selected city to get additional information, including government spending data broken down by department and summary information about the city. Andrew’s pre-existing expertise in government finance data blew us away and gave him an edge for the top prize!

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Andrew, our four engineers, and me following the hackathon

Another incredibly creative team used virtual reality to show OpenGov data, including per capita income for cities across the U.S., earning them a second-place finish in the overall competition. The image below shows the reality they created!

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In the end, six teams competed for the OpenGov prize. I’ve listed links to each project below in case you are curious!

  1. Modern Storytime – Compare budgets of different cities around the United States in one simple, easy to use interface
  2. Run-off – Compare two cities quickly on a multitude of dimensions
  3. Data Explorer – In a 3-D world, walk around and interact with your data
  4. VoicesHeard – Crowd source your government spending budget
  5. Aemerica – View financial trends for a given city across the US
  6. Is it Safe? – Find out if a particular area is safe

Want to learn more about our incredibly smart product and engineering team here at OpenGov? Contact builders [at] opengov [dot] com or view our careers page.