Photograph courtesy of Matt Barron’s Twitter feed

Fellowship will research city procurement in partnership with R.K. Mellon Foundation

PITTSBURGH, PA (Feb. 12, 2015) The Code for America Fellowship has officially launched in Pittsburgh.

The Fellowship pairs local governments with teams of mid-career, civic-minded technology experts for one year. The governments and fellows explore answers to local challenges by engaging with the community, building applications, and testing the results. Over the past four years, the Fellowship program has produced more than 55 web apps with 30 municipal governments and 103 Fellows.

The applications are tangible results of a process that builds much more than a piece of technology. By working in an iterative, user-centered, data-driven way, the program strengthens key capabilities within local government and communities that ultimately shift how cities think about, and use, technology to deliver public services.

In Pittsburgh, the Fellowship will explore city procurement: the complicated process by which the government buys everything from office supplies to fire trucks, and organizes public bids and requests for proposals from interested vendors.

“We are working to bring technological expertise into every aspect of Pittsburgh government to make it more efficient, effective and equitable for all, and we are thrilled Code for America is here to help us,” Mayor William Peduto said. “Procurement is something that affects all we do in the city, and the fellows will be at the forefront of sustainable changes that can benefit the city and its taxpayers for years to come.”

The fellows are underwritten with generous support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Eight government partners, from a diverse pool of more than 40, were selected for the 2015 Fellowship. In addition to Pittsburgh, they include: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Indianapolis, Indiana; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Somerville, Massachusetts; Vallejo, California; West Sacramento, California; and RVA Community Partners in Richmond, Virginia.

Pittsburgh is pleased to welcome three talented technologists for the year. They include:

Patrick Hammons, is a cartographer and civic hacker passionate about making data more accessible both visually and through online applications. As a GIS analyst for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology, Patrick prepared maps, visualizations, and data releases. Patrick also co-founded MaptimePHL and is an active member of Code for Philly.

Shelly Ni is an interaction designer — someone who works with organizations to address the needs of those they serve. As a co-founder of Propel, she designed a food stamp application that works on any smartphone. For her MFA thesis, she created guides to apply for social security cards and state IDs. She holds design degrees from the School of Visual Arts and Stanford.

Ben Smithgall is a developer originally from Pine Township. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a degree in Public Policy, Ben worked on the digital and data teams for the re-election campaign for Obama for America in 2012. Following that, Ben joined Spotify and worked on both analytics and data projects.

Hammons, Ni and Smithgall are part of a cohort of 24 Fellows taking leave from jobs at large and small tech companies, their own businesses and government to use their skills for good during a year of public service.

Over the course of February, the fellows will dive head into research on procurement, meeting with government officials, vendors and others involved in city procurement, and begin designing their projects thereafter. The city is paying $100,000 to cover their work and the R.K. Mellon Foundation $330,000.

Code for America is a national non-profit that believes government can work for the people, by the people, in the 21st century. In collaboration with communities, companies, and government, we build open source technology and organize a network of people dedicated to making government services simple, effective, and easy to use. More at

Code for America receives generous support from Omidyar Network, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,, the James Irvine Foundation, and many other foundations, corporations, and individual donors that support our national and local programs.