How should we measure the success of the city’s Open Government policy?

Steve Adler


The City of Austin has made great strides in implementing and prioritizing its Open Government policy. The City Council’s adoption of Open Government and Open Data frameworks and the City of Austin’s Open Data portal are important step to ensuring transparency, efficiency, and collaboration.

We can measure our success in two ways. One way is to have our work be benchmarked against our peers across the country (and across the world) by organizations that are focused on promoting and supporting open government policies. I have the privilege of serving as the Chair of the Technology and Innovation Task Force of the United States Conference of Mayors, and I host an annual summit for mayors across the country during SXSW to discuss how cities can be better prepared to use and manage technology to benefit their communities. Austin was #1 on the 2017 US City Open Data Census conducted by the Sunlight Foundation, Code for America, and Open Knowledge International. Additionally, Austin was selected to participate in the Open Government Partnership Subnational Government Pilot Program in 2016. Austin was the only US city selected among 15 global participants. This is a testament to the work done by our community including organizations like Open Austin and leaders in the City of Austin who work to ensure the City’s Open Government policy is being implemented and prioritized. This is something that needs to be celebrated and lauded, but shouldn’t be deemed as the end of our work.

The second way to measure our success is by evaluating stakeholder utilization and resident satisfaction locally. It is helpful to have an objective view of our activities from national and global partners, but if we are failing to live up to our community’s expectations about open government, we are not succeeding. Some metrics are quantifiable -such as the number of data sets that are available on the City’s Open Data portal. Others are more qualitative – such as improvement in service delivery because an innovative application was designed using open data. Both measures are valuable and relevant.

Regular updates to the City Council, continued dialogue with stakeholders like Open Austin, and community engagement that gathers feedback from all Austinites are all vital to ensure we are being innovative, transparent, and efficient. Collaboration is key to our continued growth towards a more open government.