To help state and local governments improve government operations through digital technology by enabling them to share strategies, best practices, and lessons learned, a nonprofit think tank working with a group of 11 state and local governments has launched the Digital Transformation Exchange. Officials hope that that the platform will grow into a large public-sector resource, allowing agencies to more easily obtain information on what other jurisdictions have already implemented or tried. The platform is freely accessible, and any agency can join and submit ideas and projects.
Every day is "bring your child to work day" for the Washington State Department of Transportation with the rollout of a new policy that allows eligible employees to bring their newborns to work. Under the Infant at Work program, parents can bring six-week to six-month-old children to their office or work space. The program, which follows a successful one-year pilot, allows parents to continue to bond with their infants, improves employee work/life balance and morale, and can help reduce employee leave time. About 18 parents are currently participating in the program.
California’s attorney general is making an investment in protecting low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that live in polluted areas by establishing a Bureau of Environmental Justice. The bureau will initially be staffed with four deputy attorneys general who will work on environmental oversight, investigation, and enforcement, focusing on contaminated drinking water, toxins in consumer products, and illegal air pollution. Because these communities often have less political power, they are more subject to industry and policy decisions that shift the sources of environmental pollution upon them. The bureau is part of a broader effort to rein in polluters in the state.
Austin, Texas, is seeking to root out and eliminate unnecessary paper-driven processes through a collaboration with the city's civic tech community. The first step will involve a “paper census” of city operations through which ideas will be crowdsourced from the public about areas where interaction with city government can be more efficient. The city’s partners will deliver researched and tested digital prototypes for those processes that can benefit most from a paperless transformation. Austin joins a number of other cities and states that have led the way in overhauling and reducing their paper processes in order to deliver better services and save taxpayer dollars, including the state of Illinois; Palo Alto, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; and, Orlando, Florida.
Washington, DC has hired its first Affordable Housing Preservation officer charged with leading efforts to preserve the District’s existing affordable housing stock. The position, which will sit within the DC’s Department of Housing and Community Development, will also compile and maintain a database that helps the city and other parts of the public and private sectors analyze gaps in affordable housing across the city and identify ways to mitigate those gaps. The role was created in response to 2016 recommendations from Washington, DC’s Housing Preservation Strike Force, an 18-person team comprised of key affordable housing stakeholders including district officials and councilmembers, private developers, and community representatives.
Norway’s fjords have attracted a surprising amount of garbage over the years, and the Oslo Port Authority has announced that it is planning to use drone technology to locate large trash deposits under the sea that an electric-powered ship with a crane will then remove. Legacy national policies have sanctioned the off-shore dumping of refuse into the fjords, from whole households of furniture to automobiles. The drones are set to take the plunge this spring.