Introduction 365-2014 Civic Commons Act

Date of Introduction: 
05/29/2014
Legislative Status: 
Committee: 
Plain English Summary: 

Civic Commons Act, would encourage the collaborative software purchasing of free and open source software among agencies, cities and states to pool resources, avoid duplicated effort, create portable expertise, grow jobs, and reduce costs. A Civic Commons FOSS portal would be created to facilitate collaborative software purchasing and host the collaborative FOSS source code as well as FOSS projects identified as useful for government use. Civic Commons is currently a project of Code for America, a not-for-profit hosted at Commons.CodeForAmerica.org with more information available at wiki.CivicCommons.org.

Legislative Text: 
A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to collaborative software purchasing.
 
Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
 
Section 1. Declaration of legislative findings and intent. The Council hereby finds and declares that it is in the best interest of New York City that its agencies work with jurisdictions at all levels to deploy low-cost, reusable software, using open standards, open protocols, as well as free/libre and open source software code wherever possible to:  pool resources in order to reduce costs and avoid duplicated effort; help make civic IT expertise more cumulative and portable across jurisdictions, for civil servants, for citizens, and for vendors; and permit the public to assist in identifying efficient solutions for government, promote innovative strategies for social progress, and create economic opportunities.
Section 1.  Chapter 4 of title six of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding new sections 6-403 and 6-404 to read as follows:
§6-403.  Civic Commons Collaborative Software Purchasing.  
a.  The mayor shall designate an agency to develop and implement a plan to coordinate with jurisdictions outside of the city of new york regarding the procurement of software.  Such plan shall include specific steps the agency shall take to maximize cost savings from the shared purchase and use of software,   
b  The agency that the mayor designates pursuant to subdivision a of this section shall publish such plan on the city's website.
c.  Not later than October first of each year, the agency that the mayor designates pursuant to subdivision a of this section shall submit a report to the mayor and the speaker of the city council detailing the city's efforts to effectuate such plan.  Such report shall include an analysis of estimated cost savings to the city resulting from the shared purchase and use of software.
§6-404.  Civic Commons Portal.  
a.  Within one year of the effective date of this section and thereafter, the agency that the mayor designates pursuant to subdivision a of section 6-403 of this chapter shall make available on the internet accessible through a single web portal that is linked to nyc.gov or any successor website maintained by, or on behalf of, the city of New York:
(1) Notices of software purchase solicitations by the city of New York and its agencies upon which multiple agencies or jurisdictions outside the city of New York may seek to collaborate;
(2) Civic Commons software source code in a version control repository of software purchased and used by the city of New York and its agencies or by other jurisdictions with whom software was purchased collaboratively; and
(3) Source code in a version control repository of software not purchased or used by the city of New York or its agencies that the designated agency determines may be used or improved upon by the city of New York and its agencies.
b.  If the designated agency cannot make all such Civic Commons software source code available on the single web portal pursuant to subdivision a of this section, the agency shall report to the council which Civic Commons software source code it is unable to make available, the reasons why it cannot do so and the date by which the agency expects that such Civic Commons software source code will be available on the single web portal.
c.  Civic Commons software source code shall make use of appropriate technology to notify the public of all updates.
d.  Civic Commons software source code shall be updated as often as is necessary to preserve the integrity and usefulness of the Civic Commons software source code to the extent that the designated agency regularly maintains or updates the Civic Commons software source code.
e.  Civic Commons software source code shall be made available without any registration requirement, license requirement or restrictions on their use provided that the designated agency  may require a third party providing to the public any Civic Commons software source code, or application utilizing the Civic Commons software source code, to explicitly identify the source and version of the Civic Commons software source code, and a description of any modifications made to the Civic Commons software source code.  Registration requirements, license requirements or restrictions as used in this section shall not include measures required to ensure access to Civic Commons software source code, to protect the single web site housing public data sets from unlawful abuse or attempts to damage or impair use of the web site, or to analyze the types of data being used to improve service delivery.
f.  Civic Commons software source code shall be accessible to external search capabilities.
 
§2.  This local law shall take effect 90 days after its enactment into law, provided, however, that city agencies, officers and employees, including but not limited to the city chief procurement officer, shall take such actions as are necessary for its implementation prior to such effective date.
 
SKM
LS #798
5/22/14

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Questions and Ideas

Great idea for a bill. Some questions and ideas:

  1. Does this bill create a relationship between the city of New York and civiccommons.org? The civiccommons.org website says "Civic Commons was originally a partnership between OpenPlans and Code for America. As of 2015, neither organization is affiliated with Civic Commons - it is an entirely community run resource." The bill says it's a project of Code for America. This is confusing.
  2. Would the bill be easier to implement if it limited its scope to jurisdictions in the United States of America, NYC metropolitan area and/or New York State? These seem like more realistic scopes than simply "jurisdictions outside of the city".
  3. Does the city have an inventory of all software it purchases? Would it be possible to mandate that the agency responsible for implementing this law (a) create such an inventory if one doesn't exist and (b) use that inventory to determine whether free/libre/open-source alternatives are practical replacements for that software.
  4. Would it make sense to declare that the city should consider the location of software vendors, with preference going to local vendors?
  5. Could language be added that states that the city will, when possible, contibute the modifications it makes to its software back to the open source projects from which the code was derived?

You and Gale Brewer are the best! Keep it up!!

Clarifications

There is no relationship with OpenPlans or Code for America, though we felt it important to give credit where it is due. Your questions 2 - 4 will be addressed by the city during the hearing and we welcome your attendance to bring them to the dialogue. With regard to a requirement that the city contribute its modifications back to the community, please make sure to consider testifying with this suggestion or submitting it in writing for our hearing.

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