Andrew’s efforts with Code for America and Open Tucson are mentioned in the December issue of Fast Company:
It’s a great article about the government 2.0, and worth reading. The relevant excerpt:
In 2009, while she was working with O’Reilly on the Gov 2.0 Summit, she heard from Andrew Greenhill, chief of staff to the mayor of Tucson — who happened to be married to her childhood friend Valerie. “I was tweeting and blogging around gov 2.0,” says Pahlka, “and Andrew was telling me, ‘You need to pay attention to the local level because cities are in major crisis. Revenues are down, costs are up — if we don’t change how cities work, they’re going to fail.’ “
Greenhill, a Vassar graduate with a master’s degree in English who spent two years with Teach for America, may not seem like the most likely tech advocate in government. But he had brought a customized version of SeeClickFix to Tucson, and had also helped introduce a Live BusTracker app. In 2009, he cofounded OpenTucson, a not-for-profit dedicated to developing more apps for the community. His motivation is as much financial as techno-utopian. “Our entire general fund budget was at one point about $493 million. Now it’s down to $443 million, and we’re facing a $51 million deficit in fiscal year 2012,” he says. “The application of technology in government can do as much as anything to make government more efficient and effective, more transparent, and more participatory and collaborative.”
Greenhill and Pahlka began discussing the outlines of what eventually became Code for America, a one-year fellowship recruiting developers to work for city government. They decided that any potential fellows would have to go through a rigorous application process, and that they would be equally ruthless in demanding buy-in from the cities they worked with. Only then would programmers be embedded in city hall, to spend a year working closely with city managers to design web solutions to public problems.