Everyone in Oakland who’s been involved with hacking/open government/web usability and/or Code for America Fellows in Oakland over the past 2 years has probably dealt with the extremely competent Nicole Neditch, who worked for the City Administrator’s office in a role that eventually evolved into being the trusted go-to person for aLl things techie, aka Oakland’s tech fairy godmother.
Only, as it goes sometimes, the spell was broken, and recently Nicole left her job at the City of Oakland for a new role at Code for America as the fellowship director.
So the City of Oakland has just posted her job and you have LESS THAN ONE WEEK to apply if you are interested in being a candidate. The job description is here—
and here’s what the person is said to do:
Basically, there’s pretty much NOTHING in the job description that asks for any understanding of civic engagement, digital media, open data, web 2.0 or anything else that made Nicole’s role special and valuable both to the City and to groups that worked with her on civic/tech projects. There are some tactics–know how to train on a CMS and use social media–but that’s not the core of what the City really needs in this role.
The short time frame–1 week?– and the lack of any specific requirements in this job description around open data/civic engagement and any sort of vision whatsoever lead me to wonder three things:
A) Does the city have someone they want to hire and this is just a pro-forma placement (which would be VERY typical of how Oakland has operated in the past)?
B) Do they even care about making sure they use this head count to have someone in City government who is knowledgeable about open data and civic engagement?
C) And do they think that it is inclusive and equitable, if they do care, to leave ALL THE INFO about this part of the role that made Nicoles’ work special out of the job description? That means, pretty much, that only insiders would know the additional –unstated–“requirements” for the job, which is not a good hiring practice.
Oakland, you have put so so many press releases about how progressive you have gotten around civic data and leadership!
This job posting is surely a BIG STEP BACKWARD.
Please go ahead and have such a great candidate pool–and such a stellar selection process–that you prove me wrong and get someone who can continue the really good work Nicole started.
Update: Oct 31, 11:30 am: Just spoke with Karen Boyd, who is the hiring manager for this position. Karen wanted to share some important points:
She’s in a hurry to fill this role and get a candidate pool, which is why there is such a short time frame; if she doesn’t get good candidates, she will extend it (but she sent the listing to so many relevant folks, she hopes that helps with the applicant pool.)
The job is a civil service position, appointed, so the language has to be the way it is.
She’s going to write an amendment with more info about the role and share it so that OL and other groups concerned with open gov can have more data to point to for possible candidates information.
I’d also like to add that in my experience Karen has been a HUGE advocate for tech and Gov transparency projects within the city.