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What’s New in Civic Tech: Dashboard Gauges Local Government Representation

Plus, a federal government single-sign-on platform enters public bug bounty testing phase; Louisiana debuts digital drivers' licenses; and a new report highlights states’ use of data and evidence to improve life for constituents.

Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL), a professional organization aimed at supporting those who work in local government, has created a platform to illustrate whether local government decision-makers are reflective of the populations they represent.

Dubbed the Diversity Dashboard, the effort is a crowdfunded data collection, and it was created through a collaboration between ELGL and the OpenGov platform. The Diversity Dashboard includes self-reported numbers on gender, race, age and veteran status for executive positions in local governments. The types of leaders it looks at includes chief administrative officers — a group that consists of managers, administrators, mayors and other similarly named leaders — as well as at assistant chief administrative officers such as assistant city managers, assistant administrators, deputy mayors, clerks and others with similar designations.

“ELGL wants to break down these siloed data collections to allow for a greater understanding of the diversity (or lack thereof) of local government leaders,” the group wrote on a page announcing the effort. “All data in the Diversity Dashboard is self-reported, meaning that representatives from the local governments included in the Dashboard responded to surveys and that information is arrayed in the Dashboard.”

The project is funded by a Kickstarter campaign from last year. ELGL notes that there are some local government associations that track these sort of numbers already, but that this ranks as the first nationwide analysis of diversity among government leaders.

Federal Government Single-Sign-On Platform Enters Public Bug Bounty Testing Phase, which is a federal government single-sign-on effort, is now open for public bug bounty testing.

For those who are familiar, seeks to create a centralized singular account users can sign into to access digital services from multiple government agencies at the federal level, making it easier to manage federal benefits, services, applications and other digitized government interactions. Bug bounty testing generally consists of developers offering the public incentives to report bugs, with the goal being to limit a new platform’s vulnerabilities.

Rules for the bug bounty testing phase can be found here. This program is being offered through the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service, and, as it notes within the rules, it ranks as the first bug bounty program by a civilian federal agency. While the U.S. Department of Defense welcomes civilians to report discovered vulnerabilities, overall the practice remains somewhat rare in government — especially at the local level.

Experts, however, have predicted that over time bug bounty programs will become a crucial facet of cybersecurity for municipal government entities.

In addition to, the scope of the current program also includes sites and programs such as Federalist,, and vulnerability disclosure. Bounties range from $150 to $5,000 depending on the severity of the bugs discovered. 

Louisiana Debuts Digital Drivers' Licenses

Louisiana has launched the state’s first digital driver’s license app.

The app, which was recently announced by Gov. John Bel Edwards, is now available to the public, and it enables the use of mobile devices as a substitute for physical cards. This app essentially displays an image of a driver’s license, thereby ensuring that any licensed driver by the state of Louisiana is in possession of their credentials provided they have their smartphone.

Dubbed the LA Wallet, a Louisiana law passed through Act 625 during the 2016 legislative season makes it a legal substitute, one accepted by Louisiana State Police. The LA Wallet App works with Apple iOS as well as with Android, and the state notes online that the cost for activating it is one “premium coffee for the life of your current physical license registration,” which comes out to $5.99.

The state notes that the LA Wallet serves as ID at restaurant and bars, and that TSA approval is pending.

The program was created as a collaboration between Louisiana State Police, Department of Public Safety and the Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV). Envoc, a Louisiana-based software firm, developed the platform. In its announcement, the state also notes that the entire development team was made up of graduates from Louisiana universities. The app is also billed as the “first digital driver’s license app to be fully launched in the United States." Iowa is also working toward implementing its own digital license program.

New Report Highlights States’ Use of Data

A new report highlights the ways that states are using data and evidence to better serve their residents while also offering a road map for other states to follow.

Results for America, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping decision-makers in all levels of government better use data and evidence, recently published the report, dubbed the2018 Invest in What Works State Standard for Excellence, which it described in a launch announcement as “a national standard for how state governments can consistently and effectively use data and evidence to achieve better results for their residents.”

In practice, the report showcases 88 techniques and practices related to data and evidence decision-making by leaders in 30 states.

Some of the key findings of the report included that multiple states are using performance management systems, linking data between agencies and conducting inventories of evidence-based programs, among other initiatives. The report also notes that an increasing number of states now have data-sharing policies or agreements in place, marking a trend of new formal commitments to this sort of work.

The report also gives kudos to five states leading the way in this arena. Those states are Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.

“These states have made significant strides towards creating a statewide ecosystem for using data and evidence as decision-making tools to achieve better outcomes,” Results for America wrote in its announcement.

St. Louis Civic Tech Effort Launches Vacant Properties Portal

A civic tech effort in St. Louis has led to the creation and launch of the STL Vacancy Portal, a beta version of which went live this week.

This platform is being developed by a team that formed in part during a hackathon hosted by the civic tech group OpenSTL in September, a hackathon focused on open data. This new portal pulls information from the city’s open data site into one comprehensive and easier to read data set, subsequently running it through automated processes that remove errors and inconsistencies, while also categorizing vacant parcels of land in the city and providing analysis.

The portal is also designed to update its metrics and its interactive map as information changes, new permits are issues, old permits are cancelled and other changes occur. The goal is to create a comprehensive look at vacancies throughout the city that can be used to spread awareness and bolster strategies for addressing the issue.

Addressing vacant properties, as well as blight, with civic tech and governmental collaboration is a shared concern in many jurisdictions. Perhaps most notably, a number of local governments in Upstate New York have formed a collaborative network aimed at tackling the shared challenge. 

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.