As principal of investments, Alissa’s role at Omidyar Network is to improve the relationship between citizens and government through driving sector-level change in government and the emerging civic technology ecosystem. Prior to joining Omidyar Network, Alissa was director of the California Civic Innovation Project at New America Foundation where she was responsible for developing the project’s strategy and managing the research portfolio. Previously, she served as the government relations director at Code for America, working closely with local government partners to drive innovation and the adoption of civic technology. She also worked on the emerging technology team for the City and County of San Francisco. There her team worked to bring open government to the city.

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19 Governments Across the Country Apply to Code for America


As the applications to our 2012 program rolled in last month I couldn’t help feeling a little nostalgic about our 2011 applicant cities. It was February 2010 when I began volunteering for Code for America and my first assignment was to gather additional information from the cities to aid the final selection process. This month, one year later, once again I have the pleasure of working with 19 forward-thinking governments to explore further the problem areas they identified in their applications to our 2012 program.

The US Dept of State and 18 other governments applied for our 2012 program. To us, this signals a change in the way government is approaching problem-solving and is a clear demonstration that the old approaches are not acceptable anymore, that they need a new kind of solution.

In their application, Memphis stated that they have an “unrivaled appetite for change and for connection.” New York City’s Department of Education caught our attention by telling us they “are eager to share and spread innovative technologies with others in order to empower and improve student outcomes.” New Orleans wants to partner with Code for America to develop a creative solution to fight blight in their city; as stated in their application, they have a “citizenry that is savvy and engaged, having risen up to the challenge of rebuilding after Katrina.”

Detroit also faces significant challenges and feels that “there is an historic alignment between the citizens’ mandate for a more responsive and responsible City government and an Administration that is willing to address the root causes of these problems in partnership with the private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors. Having a partner like Code for America, whose mission clearly aligns with Detroit’s efforts to tackle core problems with creativity and innovation, will only further strengthen the City’s efforts.”

We were thrilled to see Philadelphia, a current Code for America partner city, apply to participate in our program for another year! Philadelphia would like “to further enhance our forthcoming 2011 CFA platform. We envision our 2012 program involving a series of applications built on the CfA platform created through this year’s project.” Philadelphia has been an amazing partner, and it’s great to see that not only are they interested in working together again, they recognize the opportunity for government to work as a platform.

Full List of Governments Applying for the CfA 2012 Program:

  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Austin, Texas
  • Balboa Park – San Diego, California
  • California Department of Economic Development
  • California Department of Energy
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Hartford County, Maryland
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • New York City
  • Omaha, Nebraska
  • Palm Bay, Florida
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • San Francisco, California
  • Santa Clarita, California
  • Santa Cruz, California
  • US Department of State

While the program is structured primarily around cities, we were so encouraged by the enthusiasm from all levels of government, that we opened the application up to any government interested. The challenges facing these governments are not unique. I’ve spoken to over 100 cities, counties and state agencies and they all are struggling to provide services, stimulate their local economies, create economic development opportunities, and improve the quality of life for their residents. Our 2012 program will tackle some of these core problems facing our communities with creative light-weight technology that will be shared with every level of government — every city, every county and every state — across the country.

We’ll be reviewing applications over the next two months with Code for America staff, current fellows, and a Selection Committee made up of members such as Tim O’Reily, Carol Coletta, Clay Johnson, Andrew Greenhill, and other civic and industry leaders. In June we’ll announce our final selection of the 2012 Program partners.

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