Introducing Civic Commons

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Today at the Gov 2.0 Summit, we had the pleasure of announcing an exciting new initiative: Civic Commons.

Civic Commons’ mission is to help governments share technology more effectively. Governments spend an enormous amount of time and effort producing and procuring technology, and while sharing investment and expertise is completely logical, many barriers stand in the way of this happening. Civic Commons will support the sharing of actual technology as well as the many related resources (such as policy language, contract language, case studies, etc.) needed to make this possible.

Civic Commons is being founded by OpenPlans, Code for America, and the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. A substantial amount of effort will be dedicated to the project throughout 2011 as DC’s Code for America project.

OpenPlans is extremely proud to be part of this initiative, as it strikes at one of our core mission goals: to improve government services and the citizen experience by leveraging a shared investment in open code. We were founded in 1999 on the promise that shared investments in technology among governments can produce more open, accountable, effective, and efficient government. Since then, nearly all of our efforts have focused on technology and knowledge sharing among civic institutions, and we see Civic Commons as a natural extension of these efforts.

We are also very proud to be partnering with Code for America and OCTO, both of whom are leaders in this exciting and important space. OpenPlans has worked extensively with both CfA and OCTO over the past year, on projects like the OpenMuni wiki (now part of Civic Commons) and the Open311 initiative (now also a project in the Commons).  We’ve also got a great list of advisorssupporters, and as Civic Commons grows we expect to nurture an even wider and more diverse community of partners and collaborators.

We are hoping to ride what is becoming a giant wave of interest in this issue, and harness the effort of many smart people who are thinking and writing about it (Andrew Hoppin, David Eaves, Gunnar Hellekson and Clay Johnson, here’s looking at you).  The beauty of civic technology sharing is that everyone’s interests are aligned, and we believe this is also the case in this new initiative.

Now that we’re officially up and running, we’ll be writing more about our plans for Civic Commons, and we hope that you’ll join in that discussion as well.