As part of the January training period with Code for America, the fellowship teams were tasked with working on small practice projects for various San Francisco Bay Area municipalities. My team worked with the City of Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission to try and build out a dashboard for lobbyist data to make it more easily accessible to the public.
Our first step involved searching for previous works. Luckily, Chicago’s Open City organization built the open source chicagolobbyists.org a while ago, which we used as heavy inspiration. Several modifications were made to the interface to better match the data available in Oakland. When talking to the Public Ethics Commission, we also discussed business processes that could be adjusted to allow for easier access to this data, specifically looking at options for online form submission or OCR processes for the submitted paper forms. We ultimately never implemented the project as a consistent data stream couldn’t be set up.