//Dear Fiscal Board: How to rebuild Puerto Rico’s digital infrastructure

With the objective of promoting a truly effective and efficient rebuild of Puerto Rico enabled by a coherent digital strategy, the “Dear Fiscal Board” speaker series will hold its third conference on November 16th in Washington, D.C.

New America, a think tank committed to renewing American politics in the Digital Age, is to host the event, bringing together public policy and technology leaders who have played pivotal roles in formulating fiscal and information technology (IT) policies at the Federal and local levels.

Giancarlo González, co-organizer of the series, articulates the central query of this event:

“What are the necessary building blocks of digital policy and infrastructure required to rebuild Puerto Rico?”

That question will be fielded by current and former US Digital Service members who have experience transitioning agencies to the use of efficient and scalable technologies.

Buy your tickets online

The “Dear Fiscal Board” speaker series mission is to promote the search for solutions from a digital perspective to face the complex landscape in the daily lives of people Puerto Rico. Facing one of the most difficult economic stages in its history, our goal was to ensure our Government and the Fiscal Oversight Board incorporated a “digital mindset” as part of its governance structure to ensure services are delivered to citizens radically better at radically lower costs.

After Hurricane María, Puerto Rico is in an even more challenging situation. The government’s response is exacerbated by the lack of a properly empowered, funded and structured digital team to provide the infrastructure and data needed to assist in a coordinated response, to answer to the needs of citizens and volunteers. What should be ubiquitous is anything but, from soliciting and gaining access to the USNS Comfort to knowing which town last received aid.

Join us on November 16th as we engage in conversations with tech and policy leaders, including current and former members of the US Digital Service, to present answers on what type of country do we want to rebuild, how do we want Puerto Rico to look at five years from now and what do we need to do to ensure we succeed.

Digital must emerge from the silence and become a subject of force in the public discussion in order to ensure Puerto Rico can rebuild as an innovation-driven economy & emerge from its fiscal & humanitarian crisis.

EVENT DATE: November 16th @ 5:15 p.m.

100% of ticket donations will be used to support the ConPRmetidos fund, used exclusively to provide long-term relief to the victims of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico.

In partnership with The Public Interest Technology team at New America

Keynote message by Cecilia Muñoz, Vice President, Policy and Technology and Director of the National Network at New America. Prior to joining New America in 2017, she served on President Obama’s senior staff, where she co-chaired the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Political Status

Also at the event will be Bill Cooper, lead drafter of the 2016 Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), which created the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. Cooper will evaluate whether the Board has made progress towards structural government reform to fit 21st century needs.

As the Trump administration proposes $228 million in funding for a Technology Modernization Fund, dependent upon an independent review board and experts familiar with agile development techniques, Vivian Graubard from New America notes,

“We should strive to have a similar structure in any relief bill for Puerto Rico to ensure technological development is invested in accordingly to deliver results.”

The event will also cover how to leverage the talents of the tech community for social good. Alberto Colón Viera and Froilán Irizarry are two of a group of over 200 members in the “Maria Tech Brigade”, an effort to develop technologies of value for citizens after the September hurricane. But as brigade leaders Froilán Irizarry and Alberto Colón note, “for the private tech sector to assist effectively, the government needs to provide a basic digital infrastructure and engagement strategy– we need to identify what that is for future emergencies.”

“There is a basic digital infrastructure that governments need to provide to allow those in the private tech sector to be able to coordinate and assist effectively. The brigade received news on how FEMA has been unable to process close to 100,000 aid applications due to a lack of address data. The tech community could assist in this process. We also need to enable policies to classify what ‘digital infrastructure’ is needed for future emergencies. Those are some of the questions to be discussed by the Maria Tech Brigade Team,” added González.

The third subject to be included in the event’s agenda will address how to sustain Puerto Rico’s Tech ecosystem, which was thriving despite the fiscal crisis and now faces a bleak future due to the catastrophic damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria on the power grid and the telecommunication infrastructure. A panel led by Sofia Stolberg from Piloto 151 who leads the Puerto Rico TechHire Initiative and Greg Gershman from AdHoc Group will discuss how to connect local tech talent with remote work opportunities on the mainland and how to leverage the TechHire network and job search platform to speed up the process.

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