An Opportunity

In the spring of 2009, a number of civil society organizations involved in civic engagement, data collection, public policy research, investigative journalism, legal research, and public information access came together out of a heightened recognition that the ways of the old pre-Katrina era of exclusion from decision-making threatened the equity and sustainability of our region. Funded by the Open Society Foundations, this network of organizations evolved into an initiative called the New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance (NOCOG) which consists of eight groups committed to open governance in New Orleans: Committee for a Better New Orleans, The Lens, Neighborhood Partnerships Network, Public Affairs Research Council, The Public Law Center, Puentes New Orleans Inc, VAYLA and Mary Queen of Vietnam CDC.


The New Orleans Coalition on Open Governance (NOCOG) seeks more open, responsive, and accountable governance by promoting community engagement in civic discussions and decisions, increasing access to public data and information, supporting media and communications that inform and equip stakeholders, and seeking beneficial public policy and structural developments.

It is our belief that through increased community engagement in civic decision-making; increased access to public data and information; media and communications that inform and equip stakeholders; and public policy and structural developments, this mission can be realized.

Statement of Values

Government is a vital part of community life, and it serves best when its relationship to the people is open and responsive and people are informed and engaged. Informed people can act collaboratively and deliberatively with government to create healthier and more inclusive communities.

Theory of Change            

Equipping people with the skills and tools to affect civic decision-making and providing them with reliable public information strengthens civic engagement and ensures a more transparent and accountable system of governance.

Enduring change requires four interdependent and reinforcing steps:

Creating capacity: through educating and training communities and resourcing the institutions to support them

Building power: through communication and reconciliation strategies that bridge differences to create a diverse, equitable, and intentional will

Developing action plans: to effect needed policy and structural changes

Implementing actions: that represent and involve a broad and diverse group of stakeholders and generate lasting change.

Long-Term Goals

To support the creation of the structures and culture of openness and transparency, thereby transforming the relationship between governance entities and the public;

To mobilize institutions, communities of place and interest, and individuals to advocate for decision-making, public policy, and legislation that are transparent and accountable;

To make public information more widely accessible and provide analyses that support advocacy;

To equip New Orleans to contribute to national initiatives that increase transparency and openness and strengthen our democracy.

Current Programmatic Focus

NOCOG’s current programmatic focus is on promoting more open budgeting with a focus on the criminal justice system. In addition, we are supporting:

  1. A nine (9) month fellowship program for community members that builds capacity for civic engagement

  1. Training for City Hall employees clarifying open meetings and access to public records regulations and responsibilities

  1. Development of a citizen participation process to provide the structure and processes for ongoing civic engagement

Operating Principles

To foster the accomplishment of their shared mission, NOCOG and the partnering organizations accept the following Operating Principles:

(1) The partnering organizations recognize and value the synergy that arises out of their interactions in support of NOCOG’s mission. To preserve and enhance that synergy, NOCOG respects the mission of each partnering organization and recognizes the need to minimize or avoid actions that might create discord between NOCOG’s mission and the mission of partnering organizations.

(2) Each partnering organization will decide for itself whether to join specific NOCOG activities. The participation of some organizations does not imply a need for or expectation of participation by all. Correspondingly, a partnering organization’s decision not to participate in a particular project implies no criticism or disagreement with that activity.

(3) NOCOG and the partnering organizations recognize that in some circumstances a partner may need to separate itself from a NOCOG initiative and that for these purposes a recusal procedure may from time to time prove useful. When such circumstances arise, a partnering organization may provide to a staff-facilitator notice of its intention to exercise the recusal option, describing the action or project as to which it exercises recusal. The staff-facilitator will preserve a record of the recusal. NOCOG and the partnering organizations recognize that providing such a recusal option is not a sign of weakness or instability in their shared NOCOG mission; rather, recusal is an essential element in preserving and enhancing the valuable synergy among NOCOG and the partnering organizations. The failure to provide such a recusal option would be deleterious to the ability of partnering organizations and NOCOG to work together in a productive manner.

(4) When project-related activities require a public release of information or media presence, NOCOG will designate from among the partnering organizations one or several representatives who are informed about the project and who are authorized to speak on behalf of NOCOG.

(5) The partnering organizations agree to make no external communications that are relevant to NOCOG as a whole without first giving notice of 24-48 hours and securing approval from the other partnering organizations.

You may reach NOCOG by email at OpenGovNOLA@gmail.com or phone at (504) 267-4665.  For media inquiries, please review our press kit.