- The City of Philadelphia is getting rid of its Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT), redistributing staff and responsibilities to other offices in the government, according to city officials. The news was first reported by Technical.ly Philly.
- The office's 13 full-time and part-time workers will either be moved to other offices within the government or will leave at the end of the year when contracts expire. The city will also hire for several new positions, resulting in a net gain in jobs.
- As part of the shift, ODDT's product design and content strategies teams will be moved to the city's Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT), which has housed the office's open data team since last year. The service design team, which deals with public-facing city services, will be spun off into a separate studio.
Philadelphia has made open data and digital access a priority, and the restructuring is designed to spread that approach throughout the government. Bringing the user experience and content strategists into OIT, which has already taken a bigger role in creating digital services for citizens, will create more opportunities for enterprise projects, said Stephanie Tipton, Philadelphia's Chief Administrative Officer.
"This is a way to build out service design and work more cohesively on tech projects," Tipton told Smart Cities Dive. "This will help align that work a little better. Even though people are being distributed, there is still a lot of matrixing that will happen across teams."
The restructuring comes a year after the city moved the open data staff into OIT, and just a month after Philadelphia released a sweeping plan to coordinate and amplify the use of technology across the government. The IT Strategic Plan was, in part, designed to help identify areas where technology could be better used to help citizens, and where the government could partner with the city's tech industry. Andrew Buss, deputy chief information officer, said that distributing ODDT staff aligned with that plan by facilitating "more mature work."
"We're always trying to find new ways to create meaningful experiences for people around technology," Buss said. "This is an integration of functions… a reflection that the teams and responsibilities are growing."
As technology and data teams have taken a larger role in city governments, there have also been debates about how best to manage them. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has come under fire for a plan to merge the city's IT department with the office of fleet and facility management, with critics charging it would silo the tech staff.