Waco, Texas, became the fourth What Works City, and the fourth city in Texas, to pass an open data policy. Following in the footsteps of recent open data policies in Jackson, Miss., Kansas City, Mo., and Mesa, Ariz., Resolution 2015-756 was passed Dec. 15, 2015 — a big step toward increasing citizen engagement and transparency.
In August 2015, the Waco City Council authorized a partnership with What Works Cities to advance the use of data and evidence in city hall, with Sunlight leading work on open data. As part of the overall effort that included the development of the open data policy, city staff are also beginning work on a preliminary data inventory and are identifying priority areas of focus for the data and information that will be released to Waco residents in open and machine-readable formats.
Here at the Sunlight Foundation, we’re proud to have played a major role in supporting the city in drafting a policy for Waco. With strong support from Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. and city managers, the city incorporated many of Sunlight’s Open Data Guidelines into its policy, including provisions committing to the proactive release of government information online, the undertaking a comprehensive inventory of department data holdings, and to setting up a governance structure to oversee the open data process.
It is important to note that Waco does not yet have a central online location for the release of open data on their website. However, the city’s new open data policy represents a tangible commitment to reach that goal — a commitment not only to open data but to the transparency and accountability that comes with enabling city residents to play a bigger role in their local government.
With this goal in mind, Sunlight looks forward to being a part of further implementation of the newly passed policy in Waco.