Navigator Award Finalist: Michael Walters Young and Team, City of Franklin, Tenn.


Connecting state and local government leaders

Laying the foundation and making the case for open data.

This is the 49th in a series of profiles on the 50 finalists for Route Fifty’s Navigator Awards program. The first 10 finalists were from the Government Allies and Cross-Sector Partners category. Finalists 11-20 were from the Agency and Department Leadership category. Finalists 21-30 were from the Executive Leadership category. Finalists 31-40 were from the Next Generation category. Finalists 41-50 are from the Data and IT Innovators category. Explore our complete list of 50 finalists.

Stories about city governments opening up their datasets, making their information more accessible and transparent, often times involve larger municipal jurisdictions—think Los Angeles, Chicago or Seattle.

But as Route Fifty regularly reports, smaller- and medium-size jurisdictions can benefit from embracing an open data ethos, too.

That includes Franklin, Tennessee, a city with around 70,000 residents just south of Nashville. As part of its strategic plan, Franklin Forward, the city launched an open data portal in March, built on the Socrata platform.

With investments in open data initiatives, sometimes there are cost-benefit questions about whether the transparency push is worth the time and resources. What impacts has it had in Franklin?

Back in June, local elected officials leaders approved a rare property tax increase to help pay for tens of millions of dollars in needed infrastructure improvements in the city. Normally, such a vote would have been divisive but Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the tax hike on a unanimous vote.

According to a Navigator Award nomination submission, if you ask Michael Walters Young, Franklin’s budget and analytics manager, the tax hike’s approval “was in large part due to the level of trust, engagement, and mutual respect that they established with constituents through their efforts to expand access to information and to put data in context.”

To put all that municipal data in context, you first have to open it up. And that’s something that  more smaller- and medium-size jurisdictions need to do, just like Franklin has.

We’re pleased to include Young and his team as Navigator Award finalists for their work in making open data a priority in their city and showing why it matters.

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

NEXT STORY: Navigator Award Finalist: Chelsa Wagner and Team, Allegheny County Controller’s Office