For OpenGov, President Trump is proving a boon for business


OpenGov, a Redwood City, Ca., company whosesoftware helps local governments keep transparent financial records, has been picking up speed in a variety of ways, and co-founder and CEO Zac Bookman traces some of that momentum to the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

We had the best Q1 in company history. Its typically a quiet quarter, and we blew the top off our internal projections, says Bookman.

He adds that OpenGov has seen a 20 percent surge in job applicants, too.

Its easy to see why Americansmay be growing more focused about transparency than in recent years. In just one small example of how things have changed under the new administration, the White House announced earlier this month that it will no longer disclosethe logs of those who visit, a meaningfulshift in stance compared with the Obama administration, which disclosed more than 6 million related records.

White House communications director Michael Dubke told reporters that thedecision owes to the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. (Theprevious administration also redacted some recordson a case-by-case basis.)

The Trump administration has also removed the Open Government section from the White House website, and, more recently,Walter Shaub,director of the Office of Government Ethics, which advises federal agencies on how to ensure that employees comply with federal ethics laws, very publicly complained about the lack of transparency into potential conflicts of interest arising across the executive branch.

To hear Bookman tell it, local governments arelargely moving in the opposite direction, partly in reaction to these White House moves, but also because its easier than ever to make public data seeableand searchable.

In fact,according to the five-year-old, 120-person company, there are now 1,400 public agencies across 47 states using OpenGovs software, which helps governments create budgets and perform analytics, and allows residents to see what is being spent and where.

Bookman half-jokingly suggests that a third reasonthat city and stategovernmentsare embracing its services is peer pressure; when a neighboring city employsthe technology and others see them achieving so much more with so much less,they feel more obliged to do something.

One of the biggest municipalities to embrace OpenGovs technology to date is the city of Boston, which earlier this year created Analyze Boston, an open data portal built on OpenGov thatenables it to publish sundryopen data sets and make them available to residents.

Other local governmentsinclude Omaha, Neb.; Kenton County, Ken.; and the state of Ohio, which has made OpenGov available toevery local governmentto use (and many are taking advantage).

OpenGov claims to be signingup a new customer every two days at this point. And it says that owes to its three offerings. One of these is budgeting softwarethat aims to slice in half the time it typically takes to build a budget. Another is anoperational performance management suite that helps local governments benchmark their performance against other cities. Meanwhile, a newer, open data service enables cities and statesto turn their data into narratives for public and internal consumption, as well as connect their budget and performance data with Census data, FBI crime data and financial data from thousands of other counties and cities.

Thebiggest governments are signing up first for its open data product, says Bookman, while smaller governments are signing up for management reporting and business intelligence.

He says in both cases, getting OpenGovs customers up and runningtakes days or months, not months or even years as he says in the case with others in the government techspace. (He creditsa training program that OpenGovhas designed for government administrators as the reason his own team can get in and out so quickly.)

Given the Trump bump, we ask Bookman who has already raised $47 million for OpenGov and will announce a Series C round this year if he has observed whethergovernments in so-called blue states and red states are distinct in any way. We ask if they use different products or whether their attitude toward the company itself is discernibly different.

Theyare, admittedly,stupid questions.Theyre alsoquestions that Bookman, who callsOpenGov apolitical, has seemingly fielded in the past.

Volunteeringthat OpenGovs customer base is showing a near even split between red and blue, he says he finds that on a personal gut level, conservatives are drawn to the message of efficiency and of cuttingwaste and fraud and abuse.

As for liberals? Theyre drawn to [OpenGovs]innovation and tech and progressive element, says Bookman without missing a beat.

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