Following the Money: How a Subnational City is Illuminating the Path
A Campaign Finance Data Case Study from Austin, Texas
- 2016 December 9 14:30
- 50 min
- Arcades (Hôtel de Ville)
Open government for cities
The power of money to influence elections is of global interest and concern. Subnational governments lead the advance in establishing processes designed to best ensure public trust and accountability in the financing of campaigns. But for cities in the United States and elsewhere, that charge is complicated by varying laws and regulations imposed from the federal and state levels onto local governmental bodies. OGP Pioneer City Austin, Texas recently successfully navigated that maze and created a campaign finance electronic data system consisting of a publicly searchable and downloadable database disclosing political contributions, expenditures, and financial activities. Austin’s system was implemented in tandem with local legislative changes to reporting laws for both disclosed and “dark" money, and was accomplished in record time with no additional funding or resources allocated to the project. It can and should be used as a model for other governments at diverse levels.
This workshop will be introduced and framed by presentations from three high-level and highly-involved City officials who will discuss the Austin case study, and who will then invite and facilitate attendee participation in an informal atmosphere. The scope will be exploration of the process and challenges of implementing campaign finance, and examination of the approach used by Austin for managing data pulled from disparate sources into a single, cohesive data portal, including conducting a data audit and creation of technology tools to receive, validate, and publish campaign finance data. Austin’s campaign finance data initiative was implemented in two phases: Phase 1 applied to existing office holders required to file campaign finance data in January 2016, while Phase 2 incorporated all required filers including candidates and political action committees required to file campaign finance data starting July 15 for the November 2016 election. In addition, local filing requirements were amended by comprehensive ordinances to include reporting of “dark or hidden” campaign funds.
The objective of this workshop is to bring together participants from around the globe, many of whom will be active in campaign and election law fields, to share not only what their governmental organizations are doing but to receive feedback and advice on the approach used by Austin. The panel will consist of members of the Austin project team, including attorneys and technology experts, and will be moderated by the City Clerk who was the project executive lead. Please see biographical entries below. The presentation portion of the session will consist of a briefing on the challenges and approach used by Austin, followed by a brief outline of the technical implementation of the project and a demonstration of the open data portal located at https://data.austintexas.gov/Government/Campaign-Finance-Data-Transaction-Detail-Dataset/g4yx-aw9r. The participatory portion of the session will involve discussion between the panel and attendees.
Participants, even those not directly involved in campaign finance and elections, will benefit from Austin’s “pre-program pointers and lessons learned” as they consider implementation of their own open data initiatives or look to audit existing processes for managing data throughout its lifecycle.
Jannette Goodall/Jerikay Gayle
City of Austin, Texas Office of City Clerk/City Attorney
Jannette Goodall is the City Clerk for the City of Austin, Texas and is responsible for municipal elections including campaign finance. She is a Certified Municipal Clerk and serves on the International Institute of Municipal Clerks Records Management Committee and on National Association of Government Archivists and Records Administrators Board.
Jerikay Gayle is Austin’s election attorney and Division Chief for Open Government, having practiced municipal law for 33 years. She speaks nationally and internationally on transparency issues, and holds multiple merit certifications. Her academic credentials are from University of Texas Law, William and Mary Law, Exeter, Oxford, and Manchester University.
Bob Guz is Senior Business Process Consultant for the City of Austin, Texas. He is responsible for management of technology projects within the Office of the City Clerk, is lead for implementation of a City-wide electronic records management system, and has over 25 years of technical and records management experience.