Two City Govt Transparency Bills Become Law, Public-Private Partnership Created To Release City Record Data

Earlier this month, Intro 363-A and Intro 149-A became law, creating a  public-partnership that will enable New York City to unlock and analyze municipal decision-making information stored in the City Record—going back more than 15 years.

The first piece of legislation, Introductory 363-A, requires the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to post online the City Record within 24 hours of publishing the City Record, in a searchable and downloadable format. It also mandates that the City Record data is included in the Open Data portal. The second bill, Introductory 149-A, requires the Law Department to publish the City Charter, the Administrative Code, and the Rules of the City of New York online and update the compilation of laws within 30 days of any change.

In addition to signing these two bills, the Mayor announced a new public-private partnership centered around the release of more than 4,000 daily publications of the City Record, including daily reporting on government procurement, public hearings and meetings, disposition of public property, and hiring. This body of archival data—which cannot be analyzed in their current PDF file format—will serve as a valuable tool in understanding the trends and patterns surrounding City operations and forging a smarter, more effective city fit for the 21st Century.

“The Council is committed to making this City government as transparent and inclusive as possible, and making important documents more accessible to the public is a simple, but significant way to contribute toward that goal,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents the South Bronx and East Harlem.

“The City has published the City Record every weekday—except legal holidays—since 1873. It is the central repository for information about upcoming public hearings and meetings, procurement opportunities and awards, and of agencies’ proposed and adopted rules,” said Stacey Cumberbatch, Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “And, while some portions of the City Record are currently online and fully searchable now, we look forward to unveiling more archival content, and making all of the paper’s content available online and fully searchable, as we help to advance the Mayor’s vision of more open government.”

“Starting today, the Mayor and this City Council will place fundamental components of democracy online, for no cost, available to anyone regardless of location, privilege, language or device. We are delighted to see the Mayor and this Council build on the City’s pioneering transparency efforts,” said Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC. “We look forward to unleashing this canonical database of municipal information. One year from now, we envision municipal notifications streaming through every imaginable interface. As a result of the efforts of this pioneering civic hacking working group, the City Record and Law will become a first-class collection of information that strengthens local business opportunities and builds smarter neighborhoods. Today, New York City takes another pioneering step towards making government accessible for the people.”


About the Partners

  • BetaNYC is a nonprofit building a connected city by the people, for the people, for 21st Century. BetaNYC is a network of technologists, designers, hackers, neighbors and advocates building 21st Century interfaces with government. Founded in 2009, it works to demystify government, data, and technology through weekly gatherings that are safe spaces for all. In 2013, through the People’s Roadmap to a Digital New York City, BetaNYC argued that New York City must put the City Record online in a machine-readable format.
  • Citizens Union is a nonpartisan good government group dedicated to making democracy work for all New Yorkers. Founded in 1897, it works to ensure fair and open elections, honest and efficient government, and a civically‐engaged public. Beginning in 2009, Citizens Union argued for the City Record to be placed online. It brings more than 100 years of institutional experience in ways New York City government is organized and can engage the public.
  • Dev Bootcamp is the original coding bootcamp, a 9-week immersive educational model which transforms novices into web developers. This program is based in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago, and is supportive of civic hacking and diversity in tech. Dev Bootcamp brings a network of students and alumni passionate about learning and building technology.
  • Ontodia is a large open data solutions firm based in New York City, and former NYC BigApps winner. Ontodia’s team is internationally recognized for their work with geo-linked open data and PDF information liberation. Ontodia has hosted several projects and events to scrape PDFs into machine usable data.
  • Socrata helps public sector organizations improve transparency, citizen service, and data-driven decision-making. As New York City’s data catalogue provider, Socrate brings vast expertise in democratizing datasets and making data useful.
  • Sunlight Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government globally and uses technology to make government more accountable to all. It brings extensive expertise in liberating data from closed formats. From advocating for open government data policies across the country to building communities to extract and reformat data through projects like Open States and the PDF Liberation Hackathon, Sunlight Foundation is one of the premier thought leaders on structured open government data.
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