February 23, 2009

How D.C.'s tech czar is using technology to make government better

Here's a fascinating look at how technology is being used in Washington, D.C. to better facility communication between the public and the government. Vivek Kundra is the "tech czar" for D.C. and has shown a remarkable talent for using technology to power government.

In October, he launched a contest called "Apps for Democracy" to encourage developers to create applications for the Web and cellphones to give District residents access to city data such as crime reports and pothole repair schedules.

"I expected to get maybe 10 entries, but we got 47 apps in 30 days," Kundra said. He said he spent $50,000 for the contest and prize money, and estimates he saved $2.6 million over what it would have cost to hire contract developers.

As I have mentioned before, innovation in government transparency will come at least in part from third-parties. Just as some of the best ideas in computers have came from nimble startups, some of the best ideas in government oversight and transparency will also come from startup-minded people.