On March 17, 2016, city civic tech director Aaron Ogle gave an impassioned talk to a rowdy and awed crowd at Ignite Philly about redesigning Phila.gov — the front door to the city’s services — and what it takes to do the job right.
“We made space inside of government for damned-smart people to do good work,” Ogle said, adding that former Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid “carved out a place inside of the bureaucracy so we could be welcome to do this kind of work.”
— Ben Novack (@titlecharacter) March 17, 2016
Now, exactly one week after his Ignite Philly talk, Ogle announced on Twitter that he is leaving the City of Philadelphia. Today is his last day.
— Aaron Ogle (@atogle) March 24, 2016
On Twitter, he said he plans to “explore future career opportunities.” Ogle declined to comment further.
The news comes nearly four months into Kenney’s mayoral transition and right in the middle of the alpha.phila.gov redesign project that Ogle was running and building a team around. (Another member of the alpha.phila.gov team, Ryan Birchmeier, also recently announced his departure for New York City.)
New CIO Charlie Brennan told us that Kyle Odum, web and data delivery manager, would take over the web and creative services team, which Ogle used to oversee. Brennan said he wasn’t yet sure if he would hire another civic tech director, a role that was created under former CIO Ebeid. That doesn’t seem to bode well for the civic tech and innovation team built by Ebeid, Ogle and Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski in the last three years at OIT.
Ogle’s salary was $126,000, according to public records and confirmed by Ogle.
He joined the city in August of 2014, taking over for Wisniewski, who had recently been appointed Chief Data Officer. He was part of Philly’s inaugural Code for America fellowship and before joining the city, worked at civic software shop OpenPlans.
Ogle was part of a class of local technologists that left their private-sector jobs and joined the city’s Office of Innovation and Technology in the last three years. Indeed, in an interview with Technical.ly Philly after Ebeid left, he said he was most proud of the team his office had assembled.
When he was CIO, Ebeid was “always in recruitment mode” and with each hire, it got easier to attract more local tech talent: there was P’unk Ave’s Gabriel Farrell who joined the city, followed by Ogle, then data scientist Lauren Ancona, then former Code for America fellow Mjumbe Poe and so on.
“We started to build good momentum,” Ebeid told us in an interview this January.
(Evoking Mayor Kenney’s point about the difficulty of hiring tech talent for city government, in which he said that public-sector salaries just can’t compete with private-sector ones.)
Will that momentum be sustained? Can it? Or is it up to Brennan, the new CIO, to build that momentum again?