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2016: The Year in Tech / Spotlight on the Gov Tech Scene

In the fourth quarter of 2016, an Accela departure, major merger in the gov tech space and the general election outcome took center stage.


The civic tech community collectively gasped at the news of Maury Blackman’s departure from Accela, the company he founded. Interim CEO Mark Jung described the exit as amicable, and pointed to several internal moves the company is making to stabilize operations following the injection of $233 million in venture capital last year that funded several acquisitions. The changes during the transition period are aimed at preparing the company to go public. Whether an IPO actually takes place, Jung said, remains to be seen.

One of only a small group of local governments prepping their infrastructure for connected vehicles today, Miami-Dade County, Fla., is working on establishing vehicle-to-infrastructure connections by installing controllers at 300 key intersections. The first 2070LX controller was set up in August, and officials expect to blanket the county with the technology by fall 2017. Despite ever-increasing advances in vehicle connectivity and autonomy, even high-end passenger cars can’t yet connect to public infrastructure. This project ensures that Miami-Dade County will be ready when they can.


Image of Miami via Shutterstock.

The October merger of GovDelivery and Granicus grabbed readers’ attention, which is understandable due to the penetration of each company in the growing gov tech market. While GovDelivery’s focus is on constituent communications, Granicus is a well-known platform for digitizing the public meeting process. The deal is backed by Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm, which declined to offer specific revenue goals for the combined company. At the time of the merger, Granicus and GovDelivery shared approximately 100 public-sector customers in common.


Several states have been granted limited extensions to the 2005 Real ID Act — a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission to standardize identification requirements — but time is running out. On Jan. 22, 2018, travelers or visitors to certain federal facilities must present an enhanced driver’s license, a passport or other TSA-approved document. Besides the financial burden that states must bear to comply with the act, elements of the law contradict state constitutions. In Oregon, for example, the motor vehicle agency cannot retain records for law enforcement purposes as required by the act.

As the contract award for the $7 billion First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) nears, stakeholders identified a number of questions that remain, including the nuts and bolts of how the network will be deployed and operated, as well as how much it will cost for participating agencies. The project, aimed at enabling nationwide interoperability among first responders, has had several early wins at the local level, where the concept has been tested at large-scale events like the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.

User experience design was on the agenda in a big way at the annual Code for America (CfA) conference in early November, as civic technologists grappled with flipping the traditional application development process by putting customers at the forefront. One success story highlighted was Kansas City, Mo.’s ReqCheck, an app aimed at helping parents navigate their children’s immunization needs for school enrollment.
     The outcome of the presidential election just a few days later drew shock around the world, and those in the tech community were no exception. As many pondered its effects on federal tech policy and innovation programs like 18F and the USDS, others drew an interesting distinction that seemed to inspire public-sector innovators: “If you don’t like the outcome of the election (or if you do), this is a good time to remind yourself that politics isn’t government, and governing isn’t someone else’s problem,” wrote CfA Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka. “It’s ours.”

Jennifer Pahlka

Jennifer Pahlka, executive director of Code for America, addresses the audience at the organization's annual summit in Oakland, Calif., on Nov. 2. Photo by Ben Miller/Government Technology.

Back to the 2016 Year in Review

Eyragon Eidam is the Web editor for Government Technology magazine, after previously serving as assistant news editor and covering such topics as legislation, social media and public safety. He can be reached at
Government Technology Editor Noelle Knell is a contributing editor to Emergency Management magazine.
Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.