Civic News
Data / Municipal government

The City is dissolving its Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation

Staffers who held positions in the office will begin working under the Office of Information and Technology or the Office of Chief Administrative Officer at the end of this year.

Drone footage of City Hall's William Penn statue. (Screenshot via YouTube)

Three years after the City of Philadelphia opened the Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT) to oversee open data projects as well as updating and maintaining the website, it will dissolve the office at the end of 2019.

The office’s current 13 full-time and contract workers will either be moved to new teams that are housed by the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) and the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), or their contracts will end at the end of the year, at their scheduled time, according to those in City leadership roles.

Stephanie Tipton, interim chief administrative officer, said the dissolution is part of a larger plan to reorganize tech talent and abilities across the city’s other departments.

“It’s about how we could collaborate in a meaningful way,” she said, “and enable us to lend things like UX design and content strategy to other citywide projects.”

The news comes a year after a restructuring of ODDT, and two weeks after OIT released its public-facing plan and set of strategies to drive innovation and change within city government.

A map of forthcoming changes to the tech-focused offices. (Courtesy image)

The ODDT currently has four teams focused on open data, product design, content strategy and service design. ODDT’s open data team has already joined OIT’s more centralized data team under Chief Geographic Information/Data Officer Henry Garie.

Content strategists, user experience designers and visual designers are transitioning to OIT at the end of the year and will maintain and expand the new platform, and work on OIT’s enterprise-wide technology projects. ODDT developers will also join OIT’s reimagined software engineering team led by Director of Software Engineering Dan Lopez.

And ODDT service designers and design researchers will move to the Service Design Studio led by former ODDT director Liana Dragoman, now director of strategic design in the CAO. The Service Design Studio will work on citywide process-improvement efforts.

“We see it as an opportunity to scale all the work we’ve done, and the partnership with OIT, where a lot of this work initiated,” Dragoman said, “and to also realign it with massive tech projects going on across departments.”

The office will officially close at the end of 2019. Andrew Buss, the City’s deputy chief innovation officer, emphasized that the change also brings a few job openings, namely a UX strategist, UX designer and two content strategists, for which the departments will be accepting applications through Nov. 18.

“The four of us are really interested in trying to transform the organization that is the OIT,” Buss said, referring to himself, Tipton, Dragoman and Philadelphia Chief Information Officer Mark Wheeler. “The team has really evolved, the work has matured, and it makes sense to align the teams with those efforts.”

Companies: City of Philadelphia / Office of Innovation and Technology

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