#PBB18 & #NDoCH

Posted on August 5, 2018

Change... ordinary people get involved

This is my running blog about two events ELGL is participating in this week: #PBB18 and #NDoCH:

Friday, August 10, 2018

My day was full of traveling from Denver to San Francisco (with a hearty amount of airline delays thrown in) and reading as I prepare for tomorrow’s #NDoCH event. I will be live tweeting that experience and recapping it here, but I did want to take a minute to share the crowd sourced ideas that ELGL members shared.

I asked the question:

What’s one community problem that you wish your town, city, or county could solve with technology?

Here are the responses I received, generally summarized and organized by category:

Projects & Infrastructure:

  • Senior transportation options
  • Train timing/not getting stuck at crossings
  • Bike parking
  • Transportation option congruence/pay with one app for any transportation choice
  • Status of sidewalk projects
  • Status of any built environment project
  • When and where parking is available before you arrive
  • Where’s the street sweeper?
  • Status report on development review or land use case consideration

Meetings & Engagement:

  • Pick a topic and follow along with any/all public comment or discussion
  • Better understand who has jurisdiction over an issue or service

Social Services:

  • Social service identification – what services are out there?
  • Affordable housing finder
  • Food waste redistribution or sharing
  • Language/translation services

I also had one friend who wants remote controlled socks. He realizes this doesn’t really fit into the civic tech category, but I would hate for him to think his contributions went unnoticed as I compiled this list.


Anything else you’d add to this list? What’d I miss?

As a reminder, Code for America is streaming our discussion live tomorrow on Facebook, starting at noon tomorrow. Log in here.

I wanted to include (above) this great graphic from Code for America. It reinforces how #NDoCH is for everyone – not just coders. When we think about innovation and design thinking – it requires everyone to be part of that discussion. This graphic does a nice job reminding us that change starts with all of us.

(Read more below about my time at #PBB18, as well as more background on #NDoCH!)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

It’s been a whirlwind day at #PBB18. You can follow along using the hashtag (which trended! Pretty cool for a local government budget conference held on a gorgeous summer day in Denver) but I also wanted to share a few takeaways from my day:


At its core, Performance Based Budgeting introduces total transparency into a local government’s budget process. By “using a new lens” or “shining a light” (both are cliches that are heavily used around here, but that’s cool) on budgets, your organization can best understand how it spends money, where revenues come from, and what organization priorities are. Here’s a great tweet from Councilor Sandy Sprang’s presentation about the City of Toledo, OH:


Another core value that has been apparent here is the community that the Performance Based Budget crew has built with their clients and partners. There’s a lot of comfort and love in this room – which might sound weird at a local government conference, but they’ve nurtured a level of trust and shared learning that’s just delightful to be part of. I believe it’s human nature to want to affiliate with something, and in this case, the people here have found “their people” in the form of others who work with ResourceX.

Book Lovers

Luckily for me (and probably unluckily for him), I sat next to Andrew Kleine today. He just wrote a book, “City on the Line,” and it’s about his experiences managing Baltimore’s budget from 2008-2018. As we were chatting over lunch, we decided that ELGL will do a Twitter Book Club in January 2019 about the book. We’ll give away five copies later this year to some of our lucky members, and the rest of you can ask for it for Christmas. Then we’ll have a set time and date to ask Andrew questions on Twitter about his experiences and writing.


The last point I want to make is the power of an inspirational speaker. And not a cheesy “yes you can do it” speaker, but someone who reminds you why the work we do at the local government level is so powerful and important. Today, we heard from two of these inspirational speakers: Mayor Bobby Hopewell from Kalamazoo, MI and Councilor Sandy Spang from Toledo, OH. We’ve invited Mayor Hopewell to join us on GovLove, and we gave Councilor Spang a pair of ELGL socks that we’re hoping she’ll wear with pride (and we can’t wait to help Toledo find a new, awesome Finance Director).

If your organization hasn’t yet looked into ResourceX and Performance Based Budgeting, I encourage you to find a time to connect with Erik or Chris Fabian. They’re also doing some really cool work with the Novak Consulting Group, so if your organization regularly works with Julia, Michelle, and their crew, you can also reach out through them to get engaged with PBB.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Falling Rock tapsSomeone always gives me grief because my running blog posts from local government conferences aren’t that “fun.” He wants me to provide more local color so here’s my attempt.

I’m meeting up with Carly Lorentz and Nick Kittle for drinks and dinner. I’m drinking a Dry Dock Apricot Blonde at Falling Rock (motto: “No Crap on Tap”), trying to discreetly shove chips and guac in my mouth as fast as I can.

I raced straight from the airport to my hotel to record a #CityHallSelfie promo with City Council Chronicles and didn’t get a chance to eat, hence the desperate chip eating.

My Lyft driver from the airport to downtown was very talkative – he drove me down “Cannabis Alley,” an industrial area for grow houses. He talked about how he’s noticed an significant increase since the legalization of marijuana, and the corresponding increase in development, traffic, cranes, and towers.

He also said that he’s seen more construction on schools and road improvements, all related to (he says) increased tax revenue from marijuana sales.

Denver redevelopment

His observations match up with mine every time I come to Denver. I’ve notice that it gets more and more bustling with each. My first trip here was about seven years ago and the downtown area was pretty quiet.

In the five years I’ve been coming to #PBB18, I’ve noticed that more blocks are being redeveloped and refurbished. Lots of condo/apartment towers, and the sign of a booming economy – cranes. And then I just read that a proposal to develop 828,500 more square feet of this area has been submitted to the city.

For our Colorado ELGL members: what are your perspectives on the growing, bustling Denver? How has this affected your cities/counties (if you don’t work for Denver)? 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

You’ve heard me gush about how cool #NDoCH is, and how it fits perfectly with ELGL’s mission to engage the brightest minds in local government. But you’re probably asking “…so what kinds of projects actually happen on #NDoCH?”

Never fear, my Googling skills are here: I found this great post about 2017 #NDoCH projects from groups across the Southeast. To summarize, here are some of the projects that happened last year (and I don’t know about you, but this has me excited about the possibilities that will be explored this year). The projects focused on how response to the devastating hurricanes last year could be improved:

  • Code for Miami used the dot-mocracy approach to decide which projects they’d work on during their #NDoCH.
  • Miami created a GIF animation of annexations by year, from the 1830s to present times.
  • Fort Lauderdale worked on a solution that would crowdsource answers to resource depletion during emergency situations (“does this Publix still have bottled water for sale?”).
  • Savannah created a continually-updated timeline on storm response project status.

And check out this description of the winning projects in Miami:

“Miami’s winning teams included projects related to the mapping of tree permits, tracking king’s tide (an extra high seasonal tide that effects large portions of Miami), a SMS based Dead Man’s Switch for disaster communication, and even a team from Code4PuertoRico that created a solution for contacting loved ones without internet or SMS service using Arduino and Rasberry Pi live-streamed their demo (watch it here).”

Pretty impressive, right? I’ll be tracking and sharing the projects from this year’s #NDoCH on social media and in this blog. I’ll also share pictures and interviews from what I’m learning while at the SF Brigade event.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

#PBB18 stands for Priority Based Budgeting, and it’s the conference hosted by the Center for Priority Based Budgeting and ResourceX. ResourceX creates a network and community for “Priority Based Budgeteers” – local government leaders who use priority based budgeting.  As noted in this tweet, ELGL and CPBB have had a five year love affair.

When ELGL first started engaging with CPBB, we definitely had a learning curve to learn more about what priority based budgeting is, and how the tool works. Over the years, ELGL has been approached and worked with a lot of companies that do surveying, and others that do financial management. What we love about ResourceX, is how streamlined they make community need prioritization, financial analysis, and transparent reporting.

Resource X centralizes and standardizes all data, and streamlines the process of converting line item budgets into a program based budget. They also build a program inventory and allocate costs to programs. There’s a community engagement focus on defining a community’s results and adding scoring. Users can also analyze the data, identify programs for review, and drill into the line item level to make performance changes. There’s also a dashboard for local government staff, and a presentation tool for external engagement. Fundamentally, this financial model values transparency and community engagement.

At #PBB18, I’m excited to hear from people like Andrew Kleine, Maria Flynn, and leaders from Kalamazoo, MI and Toledo, OH about their experiences with priority based budgeting. The other great thing about ResourceX events is their focus not only on their priority based budgeting tool, but also a sincere interest in good government and local government trends.

Monday, August 6, 2018:

The National Day of Civic Hacking (#NDoCH) is on August 11. It’s a nationwide day of action that brings together civic leaders, local governments, and community organizations to tackle some of our toughest challenges. Code for America is the lead organizer for this event, and they currently have 37 events scheduled in 23 states.

Open Twin Cities NDOCH event#NDoCH events are for people who love their city and want their cities to be better places. These events bring together community leaders, coders, government staff, designers, non-profit employees, data scientists, and anyone with a stake in their government.

And most interestingly – no tech skills required!

This means that anyone who wants to make a difference in their community or work on a tough problems is invited to attend.

The events vary, ranging from “hackathons” where people come in with ideas for an app and create prototypes at the event; to “city camps” which are  un-conference type events where people discuss the problems in their city and create the connections necessary to solve them; to “design camps” where participants use user-centered design to reimagine government services.

So if you’re in any of the 37 cities that are hosting #NDoCH events – clear your calendars on Saturday and plan on participating. And if you do, please share what you’re learning using the hashtag and tag ELGL in it too so we can share what you’re learning and doing on this important day for local government.

Code for America

Sunday, August 5, 2018:

I leave this week for two awesome events: the first is the ResourceX/Priority Based Budgeting conference (#PBB18) in Denver, and the second is the National Day of Civic Hacking (#NDoCH) in San Francisco. I’m talking about the Diversity Dashboard at #PBB18, and civic technology at #NDoCH.  I’m excited to catch up with ELGL friends at both events.

#PBB18 has special significance for ELGL. Erik and Chris Fabian were two of the first people to invite ELGL to speak at their organization conference, and it was a big turning point for our organization to branch out and meet new people who are also Priority Based Budgeting users. It also gave us a boost of confidence back then, to have another organization put faith in us to contribute to their program and agenda.

Our first conference with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting was in 2014. Over the years, it’s become a “must-attend” conference in our book – the attendees are always fully engaged in the sessions and it’s a literal who’s who of local government innovators. Notably, we first met now-board member Christian Williams at #CPBB14. Over the years, Christian stayed active in ELGL and we can reflect back on “remember when you took local gov selfies to the next level at #CPBB14?”

Learning about @GoodyearAZGov‘s experience at #CPBB14 & @MyPublicTweeter is speaking, we hope he takes another selfie pic.twitter.com/9S8qOWAwQp— ELGL ? (@ELGL50) August 7, 2014

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