Alex is the 24-year-old mayor (they call it Village President) of South Orange, one of the youngest mayors in the country. Last month, he was a presenter at PDF12, the Personal Democracy Forum, on the internet’s new political power. You can see that here. – promoted by Rosi
Everyone supports 'Open Government.' And it seems, these days, that most elected officials enjoy talking about how they support open government and transparency. But how many of us are really doing everything we can to do so?
Here are a couple of easy ways we are helping to bridge the gap between citizen and government in South Orange that I hope can serve as perhaps a starting point for others looking to do the same – as well as for citizens who want to push their local officials to embrace the benefits of new technology.
But before I get started, it's important to note that these ideas (and plenty more) for the most part save taxpayer money and make government more transparent at the same time. Using the right technological platforms, you don't need to sacrifice lots of money to be more transparent, and no longer do governments have to sacrifice transparency to save money.
Open Budget data. In South Orange this year, for the first time (and one of the only municipalities to even do so), we released our $32m municipal budget in a downloadable, editable Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which allows the data to not only be understood and manipulated by anyone, but, being in a standard format, can be tied into other software or applications. We kept the formulas embedded in the spreadsheet so people could manipulate the numbers and see the impact on the total budget as well as each household. I joked at our 2012 State Of The Village that it allows someone to play Village administrator for a day, and it's really true.