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Philadelphia Names Mark Headd As Chief Data Officer

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, August 8 2012

Philadelphia's Chief Information Officer Adel Ebeid named longtime civic hacker Mark Headd as the city's first chief data officer Wednesday. Ebeid made the announcement in a Wednesday morning tweet.

The city hired Headd from Code for America, where his title was director of government relations. He was there for just six months, and his job was to help the non-profit grow its relationships with cities. The group sends developers to cities all over the country to help them to create open source software projects to re-imagine and re-architect key city processes.

Headd's previous experience in government includes almost three years as the principal assistant to Delaware's chief information officer beginning in late 2001, and prior to that a year as the director of the state's online government information center. He's also worked in the private sector for Voxeo, as well as other technology companies.

Headd is a vocal proponent of civic hackathons and using technology to open up government systems and information to the public, and helping citizens to get more involved. He's argued that governments can stimulate local economies by opening up their stores of data and by encouraging app development.

Jeff Friedman, Philadelphia's manager of civic innovation and participation in Mayor Michael Nutter's office, writes this about Headd in his LinkedIn profile:

"Mark is THE civic hacking guru for Philadelphia and beyond. He has the most excellent complement of interpersonal and technical skills that makes him incredibly effective. He's done as much to advance open government and civic hackery in Philadelphia as anyone and his contributions to the OpenAccess Philly movement and other Gov 2.0 initiatives have been incalculably valuable."

While the city has published various forms of data online for some time, it had never systematically organized access to it. As a public service, software company Azavea partnered with a number of organizations last year to create Open Data Philly, the management of which was recently taken over by the new non-profit the Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network.

Nutter issued an executive order late this April establishing the position of chief data officer, and an action plan to implement a systematic way for the city to establish new procedures for publishing information.