Reinvent Albany promotes open, accountable New York State government. Our interest in government transparency and public participation is both practical and idealistic. Around the world, the governments that are the most effective and least corrupt are also the most transparent and accountable.
We strongly support the work of the patriotic New Yorkers who advocate for more ethical and fairer government. We share many of their goals, and we recognize the importance of their work on fair and clean elections. However, we also bring some new and different perspectives. We are particularly interested in the power of the Internet to make our state government more responsive, open and effective. This technology — which includes the “Social Internet,” smart phones and open data is changing everyday life, and has the potential to strengthen our democracy and greatly improve our state government. As co-chair and coordinator of the New York City Transparency Working Group, we bring together civic technology and good government advocates to create a consensus and take advantage of the opportunities technology offers to make NYC government more open and transparent.
Our work is focused on winning:
Online transparency that allows the public to see what our state government is doing, how it spend public funds, and who gets those funds.
Open data laws and directives that put the state’s and city’s vast wealth of digital information online and make that data easy to find and reuse without restriction.
OpenFOIL, an open and online Freedom of Information Law process that takes full advantage of technology so that FOIL works better, is less expensive, and complements Open Data so that the public information revealed by FOIL is available to all.
Online performance measurement for state agencies and authorities accountability, including online publication of clear public goals, priorities and performance measures.
Fiscal honesty, which to us means the state government spends dedicated transit and clean water funds on for transit and clean water; and that economic development spending is transparent and can be clearly justified .
Spending transparency, in particular around economic development spending and off-budget and discretionary spending like business subsidy deals and MOU/lump sum spending which are opaque, and at risk for corruption, and whose efficacy is difficult to measure. We have an additional focus on the private finance of public infrastructure, which we believe is generally more expensive than funding via public finance, and is therefore a bad deal for the public.
What we have won
Online Transparency and Open Data
Creation of NY State’s “Open NY” / Open Data Initiative via executive order.
Creation of NYS Open Budget website.
Major upgrade to the Attorney General’s NY Open Government.
Major upgrade to the NYS Comptroller’s NY Open Books site.
NYC Open Data Law and fully funded open data initiative.
NYS Transit “Lockbox” bill.
In coalition, we helped stop the diversion of $500m in Clean Water Funds for Tappan Zee Bridge construction.
Reinvent Albany has a small, experienced, professional staff and board of directors. We rely on a large circle of expert advisers from government, academia, business and the public interest world. We use our staff as project managers and enlist top tier consultants as needed to produce reports and original research and to help organize events. We also work closely with established advocacy groups and within coalitions dedicated to government transparency and accountability, and infrastructure funding.
Reinvent Albany was founded in January 2010. Its founders include prominent members of New York’s environmental, transportation and urban sustainability movements.
John Kaehny, is the Executive Director and a founding board member of Reinvent Albany, and is the Co-Chair and founder of the New York City Transparency Working Group. John is an authority on using technology to increase government transparency. At Reinvent Albany he has helped win the creation of the state’s “Open NY” open data initiative and open budget website and has contributed to major improvements at the Comptroller’s Open Book New York spending site and the Attorney General’s New York Open Government website. John also helped lead the campaign for a transit “lock-box” to end the diversion of transit dedicated funds. In New York City, John helped lead the campaign for the NYC Open Data Law, and the NYC Open FOIL initiative, and is regularly consulted by city agencies on online transparency issues.
Prior to co-founding Reinvent Albany, John was a transportation policy consultant for leading New York, national and international environmental groups, and was the longtime executive director of Transportation Alternatives in New York City. John is also the co-founder of the national Alliance for Bicycling and Walking and has served on numerous city and state governmental advisory boards. His writing has appeared in the NY Times, NY Daily News, Albany Times-Union, NY Post and NY Newsday, as well as technical and scholarly journals.
Alex Camarda, Senior Policy Consultant, is one of New York State and City’s top experts and advocates for accountable government. From his time on staff at the NY State Senate, NYC Department of Finance and the watchdog group Citizens Union, Alex has garnered deep practical experience in how government works and does not work and has led numerous successful campaigns for cleaner and more effective government.
Liz Marcello, Campaign Manager, comes to Reinvent Albany from Columbia’s Earth Institute. When not at Reinvent Albany she is a PhD student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation where she studies the politics of infrastructure development.
Lia Soorenian, Researcher, has a background in urban planning and geospatial mapping. She is also a masters student in urban planning at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Board of Directors
Reinvent Albany’s founding board includes prominent members of New York’s environmental, transportation and urban sustainability movements, who were so dismayed by the dismal state of affairs in Albany that they decided to take action.
John Kaehny, founding board member.
Mark Gorton, founding board member, is the president and founder of OpenPlans, which publishes Streetsblog and Streetsfilms. He is a prominent voice for livable streets in New York City and other American cities. Mark is also the founder and chairman of Tower Research Capital.
Aaron Naparstek, founding board member, is a journalist, and a nationally recognized authority on green transportation and sustainable urban development. Aaron is the founding editor-in-chief of Streetsblog, and recently completed time as a visiting lecturer and scholar at MIT and Harvard.
Reinvent Albany was founded in January 2010, and is incorporated in New York State. Reinvent Albany is a non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt charitable organization. It was awarded 501(c)(3) public charity status by the IRS in October 2010. Our Conflict of Interest Policy, Whistleblower Policy and Document Retention policies are downloadable at these links.
Reinvent Albany is funded by individuals and foundations from across the political spectrum who support our efforts to make New York State and City government more transparent and effective. We receive no funding from government, government officials, government vendors, trade groups, labor unions, lobbyists or 501c4 groups. We ask all donors for permission to post their identity on this website. However, some donors prefer to remain anonymous.
- Democracy Fund / Omidyar Network
- La Vida Feliz Foundation
- Jewish Communal Fund
- Sustainable Markets Foundation
Individuals donating $1,000 plus since 2010
- Mark Gorton
- Ken Hirsh
- Aaron Naparstek
Audits, Tax Returns
See this page for Reinvent Albany’s audited financial statements, federal tax returns, and state filings.