Seamus Kraft, the cofounder and executive director of The OpenGov Foundation, is the 2016 recipient of the James Madison Award, given annually by the American Library Association to honor leaders who work to improve the public’s access to government.
The OpenGov Foundation, established in 2013, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses innovative technology and open data to advance the efficiency and openness of governments. The Rita Allen Foundation is supporting the development of The Chicago Way, a partnership between The OpenGov Foundation and Chicago Clerk Susana Mendoza. This pilot project will produce the first-ever unified digital platform for writing, sharing and amending legislation, with user-friendly citizen access as a key goal.
In his acceptance speech for the James Madison Award, Kraft emphasized the crucial need to digitize and remove barriers to the lawmaking process, particularly at a time when citizen access to public laws is often threatened by private control. “In this time of sweeping technological change, a new day is dawning for democracy,” he said. “Our community of fighters for the freedom of information is, at long last, beating back the entrenched and well-funded enemies of openness.”