Sarah Schacht

Sarah Schacht

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Open Gov West

December 12, 2009

The more I traveled this year and talked with IT staff within different governments, the more I realized that they weren’t talking to each other.

It seemed like everyone working within government was wrestling with variations of the same problem: opening data despite their legacy software, funding improvements in a budget crisis, creating public policy support for transparency practices, implementing social media practices without violating public records and meetings laws.

These aren’t easy issues to fix, but I think they’re compounded by the relative isolation that government IT offices work within.  Policymakers don’t understand the financial or staffing restraints of IT offices; IT offices don’t feel like they can ask for retraining, resources, or realistic policies. And sometimes, IT offices hide their inadequacies, refusing to look outside themselves for solutions.

–These aren’t all governments or IT offices, but this was a trend.

A trend, frankly, that needs to stop.  There’s too many good resources and talented people out there for government IT offices and policymakers to be working in a vacuum.   I knew a bunch of smart people and I wanted them to start helping each other meet shared goals. An idea I had for a small gathering grew to a big vision for a larger gathering called Open Gov West.

Now hosted by the City of Seattle, and with the support of incoming mayor Mike McGinn, Council Member Bruce Harrell’s office, Comcast, and a growing team of 25 conveners, Open Gov West is quickly shaping up to become a conference of over 500 participants, two days, and a fair amount of work.

Every day, I’m talking to more governments that are excited about the idea that we could come together and share challenges, solutions, resources, and standards—moving all of our governments towards transparency and greater civic engagement.

It’s pretty exciting, and I’m thankful to have so many great people working on this project with me.


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Very exciting! Makes total sense that all these folks should come together. When is it happening? How can I get involved? You may have seen this, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation (@eff on Twitter) has a post up from earlier this week that’s worth a read:

“White House Takes Another Step Toward Greater Transparency”

I’m also curious how Anil Dash and Expert Labs will change government transparency and civic participation at the fed level.


Emily Cunningham

December 13, 2009

Hi Emily,

You can get involved by sending me an email at director a t knowledgeaspower d o t org

Put “OGW Volunteer” in the subject headline and I’ll work to plug you into what we’re doing!

Thaks for the link!

Open Gov West

January 23, 2010

1 notes

  1. Open Government West Conference: January 29th & 30th « UW iSchool Office of Student Services Blog reblogged this and added:

    […] Thought many of you would like to know about this exciting conference/unconference coming up on open government.  Sarah Schacht of Knowledge as Power is one of the driving forces behind OGW.  I hear she is also an iSchool alum.  Below is a snip; full post can be found here:  Oh, and a great write-up from Sarah’s personal blog is here: […]

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