Los Angeles Doubles Down on Open Government with Chief Innovation Officer Hire

Originally posted at CA Fwd.
By Matthew Grant Anson.

Continuing a recent trend of embracing innovation and open government, Los Angeles shored up its reputation even more by appointing the city’s first Chief Innovation Officer this week. Peter Marx, appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, will be tasked with making over the city’s website and mobile app. He will also represent a key cog in the wheel of open government by overseeing the release of the data collected by city agencies.

“Harnessing technology is critical to the future of our economy and improving city services,” said Mayor Garcetti in a statement. “I’m thrilled to have [Marx] on the team and look forward to working with him to better serve Angelenos and foster the already strong tech ecosystem here in the City of Angels.”

This tech ecosystem referred to by the mayor is in reference to LA’s efforts to embrace open data, transparency, and unique ways of using technology to achieve those goals. The Los Angeles City Controller has brought LA’s financial data to the people with easy to use resources. Los Angeles is in the beginning stages of seriously considering free, citywide Wi-fi. This is not a city stuck in the 20th century, and the appointment of a Chief Innovation Officer hammers that home even more.

“Here in the Controller’s office, we are continuing to add more data and features to ourControlPanel LA financial transparency portal, to help us build a more transparent City, improve our delivery of public services and increase civic participation,” Controller Ron Galperin told California Forward. “I look forward to collaborating with the Mayor’s new Chief Innovation Technology Officer, Peter Marx, on the Citywide Open Data effort.” ControlPanel LA is the portal containing much of the city’s under-the-hood information, an extremely valuable resource for the city’s citizens curious about where their tax dollars go. Adding Marx to the city’s open government efforts is an investment in the city’s commitment toward reaching the people that elect them.

“Establishing a point person to bridge the needs of city leaders, residens, and its IT development is a strong move,” said Robb Korinke of Grassroots Lab. “The complexity of large city operations presents both challenges and opportunities for technology to accelerate both the access to, and quality of, public services.”

The background of Marx speaks for itself. A former executive at the tech company Qualcomm Labs, he also had stops at Electronic Arts, Universal Studios, and Mattel. Marx is a qualified hire that signifies that Los Angeles is taking its own rhetoric on transparency and efficiency seriously.

California Forward has been committed to innovation in government in the name of open data since our very beginning, culminating in resources like our Transparency Portal and consistent coverage of the state of transparency in California. The first step toward a government people can rely on and trust is when that government not only releases its information, but does so in a way that is legitimately accessible and not just transparency lip service.

Los Angeles was already doing a respectable job with their recent launch of a massive new open data platform containing troves of city data, but the hiring of a Chief Innovation Officer leaves no doubt that the city knows what the future of governance is going to look like.

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