Knight Foundation Boosts OpenGov With $750,000 Grant


The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation have given a $750,000 grant to the OpenGov Foundation for its Madison project. CivSource has previously reported on Madison which creates an editable platform for legislation. Think GoogleDocs for laws.

The OpenGov Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., will implement, test and refine an online and open process for creating new laws. Building on its existing America Decoded and Madison projects, it will allow the public to engage in the full cycle of lawmaking—from suggesting ideas, to drafting bills, gathering public input, codification, and finding laws already on the books. Users will be able to access policy from start to finish; they will be able to read initial drafts of new policy documents, provide comments and suggestions on working bills on the platform where others can read and comment as well, and follow legislation as it becomes part of the law.

In 2013 Knight provided an initial $200,000 to support The OpenGov Foundation’s work opening up legal code and legislation. Since then it has built on Madison, and the State Decoded open-source software for its America Decoded initiative, which posts legal code online in a format that allows users to search, link and download content. State Decoded is now available in Baltimore; Chicago; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and the state of Maryland.

A recent partnership with American Legal Publishing Corporation will allow The OpenGov Foundation to better access up-to-date legal data, easing the process for posting partner city and state laws online.

The grant will further fund the release and deployment of the 2.0 version of Madison, The OpenGov Foundation’s flagship project. Madison enables citizens to comment on, ask questions about, and suggest changes directly to policy documents on an open platform; it also allows policymakers to respond directly to citizen input through the public platform.

Additionally, The OpenGov Foundation will continue in its role as a founding member of the Free Law Founders, a national coalition of elected officials, government workers, civic technologists and policy experts opening up the laws, legislation and processes of local governments. The coalition, formed to share resources and expertise, is helping local governments across the country open up their work online. It includes members from Boston; Cambridge, Mass.; Chicago; New York; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and Montgomery County, Md.; as well as experts from the Sunlight Foundation, the Participatory Politics Foundation and MIT Media Lab’s Human Dynamics Group.