What’s New in Civic Tech: NYC Celebrates Innovation Cohort

Plus, the Federal Chief Data Officers Council has launched a new website with an absolutely perfect URL, the U.S. Treasury tapes artificial intelligence to help parse spending bills faster and more.

Rush hour traffic in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City.
Rush hour traffic in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City.
Shutterstock/Ryan DeBerardinis
Less than a year after creating its NYC[x] Innovation Fellows Program, New York City is celebrating the second class to go through it. 

The program — which was essentially created out of a partnership between the NYC Mayor’s Office of the CTO and U.S. Digital Response — has a second cohort that has taken 15 technologists and 10-week sprints in the service of work for the city, with goals that range from fostering business opportunities for minority-owned businesses to simplifying the city’s payment portal to connecting older residents with the services they need.

One of the most remarkable qualities of this program was the speed with which it was created. At this time last year, none of it existed. It was, essentially, born out of partnerships that sprung up during the pandemic before being structured and made official in the summer. The initial idea was for volunteer technologists to help the city meet the needs of residents during the pandemic. It has since, however, expanded to include a broader range of civic goals. 

Key partners from the wider community for this cohort included the Mayor’s Office for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE), the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), the Department for the Aging and the Department of Finance. 

More information about the second cohort and the work they did can be found on the city’s website.

Federal Chief Data Officers Council Launches New Website

Public-sector chief data officer Twitter was abuzz this week — abuzz! — after the Federal Chief Data Officers Council launched its new website, subsequently unveiling its URL: https://www.cdo.gov/.

Simple yet effective, the new URL gets to the heart of exactly what this site is all about — not unlike the best public-sector data visualizations. The site is a resource for public-sector data officers, specifically those at the federal level. Everything from the group’s leadership to its character can be accessed on the site, along with links to similar groups, including those for CIOs, CFOs and CAOs. 

U.S. Treasury Department Taps AI to Parse Spending Bills Faster

Speaking of data at the federal level, the U.S. Treasury Department this week unveiled a new usage of artificial intelligence that can help parse federal spending bills faster.

It’s actually a tool that is currently being tested by the Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service. As officials explain in this blog, part of the goal here is to essentially train artificial intelligence to make decisions that a human would, thereby streamlining “bureaucratic processes, contributing to a more nimble and responsive government but also to a federal workforce that can apply its talent to creative rather than repetitive tasks.”

Reports suggest that a specific application of this will involve AI that is capable of reading PDFs in order to turn text into machine-readable data, ultimately helping to hasten annual appropriations processes and get money to agencies quicker.

How Do Biden’s Executive Orders Affect State Government?

In the first weeks of his administration, President Joe Biden has issued a flurry of executive actions, some of which directly and indirectly affect state government.

To track these impacts, the National Conference of State Legislatures has created a space online to highlight them. You can find that space on the group’s website, and it is broken into several categories, including census, economic development, housing immigration and more.

The page has the impacts of the executive actions broken down with easy-to-read language and linked to the whitehouse.gov pages for the exact wording of the individual executive orders, along with contact information for experts with the group who can help explain why it matters.

 

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine