Urban park ranger. Psychologist. School safety agent. Child protective specialist. City planner. These are just a few of the civil service titles New Yorkers apply for when they take the New York City Civil Service Exam. Administered by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, these exams are part of a century-old system rooted in transparency and public accountability and designed to assess candidates interested in public service using a fair, consistent, and merit-based approach. For decades, the results of civil service examinations were posted on a wall in the municipal building at 1 Centre Street in Manhattan, where prospective employees would go to check their ranking. Today these lists are published as a dataset on the Open Data Platform, allowing New Yorkers who aspire to join the ranks of 300,000 public servants to see how they performed—without making a journey to Lower Manhattan. In June 2018, when the City released the much-anticipated results of the firefighter civil service exam, web traffic to the Civil Service dataset on the Open Data Platform increased 16-fold, representing tens of thousands of potential firefighters learning how they ranked.
In addition to making the process to work for the City more accessible, data helps create a fair and transparent process for those who want to do business with the City. The City’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) Program expands opportunities for minority and women entrepreneurs to access City contracts and grow their businesses. When eligible businesses take the first step and get certified by the City, they become more visible to prospective buyers, including City agencies and private contractors. On NYC Open Data, you can find thousands of certified M/WBEs, Locally-based Business Enterprises (LBE), and Emerging Business Enterprises (EBE). They are engineers and lawyers, plumbers and graphic designers, restaurant suppliers and architects. The Department of Small Business Services shares this data with other City agencies and private contractors, facilitating contracting opportunities. This data also allows the City to set benchmarks and assess its progress toward increasing contracting opportunities for these businesses. The data shows, for instance, that the percentage of the total value of contracts going to M/WBEs increased from 8.0% in FY15 to 14.3% in FY16. Last year, the City of New York awarded M/WBEs a record-breaking $1 billion of its $80 billion dollar budget (also an open dataset) in contracts.