Cracking open the government: On the front lines of making Washington transparent

Meet the hackers fighting to open up government

WASHINGTON, D.C. - There’s a quiet movement afoot in Washington; one you won’t hear about on cable news or flashy political blogs. It is the 21st century iteration of a classic American ideal: radical transparency in government.

The modern pursuers of this goal include non-profits and business titans, hobbyists and hackers. They have formed a kind of nerd-corps of cyber-civics - designers, computer programmers, hackers and political activists - all working to build technology that makes government more accessible to people.

Every year, a non-partisan, open-government group called The Sunlight Foundation hosts a kind of conference for this nerd-corps, it’s called Transparency Camp, or T-Camp among its faithful.

Sound obscure? You might be surprised to hear that T-Camp is sponsored by the likes of Google and Microsoft. Many of the attendees are rock stars in their fields, with experience developing some of the most lucrative sites and apps of recent years. They’re now turning their significant brains toward a less sexy, but in many ways much more challenging problem: Putting every citizen’s government right on their phone.

DecodeDC visited this year’s Transparency Camp to bring you stories from the front lines of the fight to crack open government.

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DecodeDC's foremost aim is to be useful. That means being a reliable, honest and highly entertaining source of insight and explanation. It also means providing multimedia coverage of Washington's people, culture, policies and politics that is enlightening and enjoyable. Whether it's a podcast, a video, an interactive graphic, a short story or a long analysis, it will be based on this guiding principle: We are in DC but not OF DC.