Socrata Book Club looks at the latest and greatest volumes written about government transparency, open data, and data-driven decision making.
By Aneesh Chopra
In “Innovative State,” Chopra shows how, over the course of our history, America has had a pioneering government matched to the challenges of the day. Now, in the Internet era, we can reshape our government and tackle our most vexing problems, from economic development to affordable health care, with the tools of open government. Open data fuels private industry and improves services for everyone, from better weather forecasts to overcoming blight in post-Katrina New Orleans. New standards enable a smart electrical grid—and transparency for consumers—as well as better and more cost-efficient medicine. Prizes, challenges, and competitions tap into the talent of Americans outside government, like the immigrant waiter who won a contest to design an inexpensive new vehicle platform for the Defense Department. And by attracting talent, our government has instilled the impatience of startups into old bureaucracies, quickly producing results. Drawing on interviews with tech leaders and policy experts and building on Chopra’s firsthand experience, “Innovative State” is a fascinating look at how to be smart, do more with less, and reshape American government for the twenty-first century.
The Metropolitan Revolution
by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley
Across the U.S., cities and metropolitan areas are facing huge economic and competitive challenges that Washington won’t, or can’t, solve. The good news is that networks of metropolitan leaders—mayors, business and labor leaders, educators, and philanthropists—are stepping up and powering the nation forward. These state and local leaders are doing the hard work to grow more jobs and make their communities more prosperous, and they’re investing in infrastructure, making manufacturing a priority, and equipping workers with the skills they need.
In “The Metropolitan Revolution,” Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley highlight success stories and the people behind them.
What It Means and How You Can Make It Happen
By Donald Gordon
“Transparency” has become the new mantra of politicians and pundits alike. But what does it mean in practice? In this informative and clearly written book, community activist Donald Gordon defines the essential features of a transparent government and makes a convincing case that it is critical for a healthy and maturing democracy and the basic liberties we all take for granted. Gordon first presents a clear definition of transparency in government and why we should pursue it, followed by a review of the history of transparency in American politics. He then makes the case for how transparency serves as the foundation for active civic engagement. The heart of the book is Gordon’s “Transparency Index.” The author examines best practices in measuring transparency and then isolates the critical factors that can be used to assess any type of government and its commitment to transparency. In addition, a scoring system is presented that allows for comparison of government entities. For anyone who wishes that government were more effective and responsive, this book shows how these goals can be achieved.