Making Municipal Governments More Responsive to their Citizens

PLEASE NOTE: New grant proposals are no longer being accepted in this program.
Photo: Fund for the City of New York and the Center on Government Performance.

An early experiment in digitally-enabled citizenship, the ComNet system allowed city residents to use handheld computers to communicate problems, like this broken hydrant, to municipal authorities.

This Foundation program, begun 2005 and ended in 2010, aimed to improve municipal governance by leveraging advances in digital technologies to help increase communication between city governments and the residents they serve.

​Grantmaking pursued a series complementary strategies: 

  • Make evaluation of city government programs, projects, policies, initiatives, and acts a normal, widespread, and expected feature of municipal governance, and ensure that all such evaluation are both resident-informed and publicly available.
  • Accelerate the spread of telephone- or web-based technologies that enable resident to make and track direct service requests to their local governments.  

"Resident-informed" evaluations are defined as evaluations whereby:

  • the government involves the public in developing performance metrics that residents care about;
  • the government involves the public in deciding how performance metrics will be reported; and
  • the government obtains and takes seriously feedback from the public on performance reports.

Grantmaking took several forms, including support for technology development, funds for research and data collection, support for partnerships between city agencies and good governance groups, and support for resident-led community organizations. 

Grantmaking in this program was completed in 2010.

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