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Politics & Government

Code for America Fellowship Program Begins in Pittsburgh

The Code for America fellowship program has officially started in Pittsburgh. Fellows will look at city procurement, the process by which government buys everything, from pencils to bridges. They’ll look at how the government organizes public bids and requests for proposals.

“What it means for Pittsburgh is an ability to put us ahead of other cities around the world when it comes to the way that we spend taxpayer dollars,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.

Three fellows, who all have backgrounds in technology companies, will spend a year on leave from their jobs and work in public service in Pittsburgh. They will establish some sort of open data program that is accessible to all via a web application.

“We spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year through the city, through our boards, authorities, commissions," Peduto said. "And for so many people they don’t even have an idea of how to bid on the work. For so many the contracts are written in ways that only address one or two companies that could even be able to provide that service.”

The city is paying $100,000 to cover the work of the fellows and the Richard K. Mellon Foundation is paying $330,000.

Laura Meixell, analytics and strategy manager for the city of Pittsburgh is working with the fellows. She was a Code for America fellow in 2013 working on criminal justice issues in Louisville, Ky.