Othmane Rahmouni has always found satisfaction in volunteering, but a couple years ago the 30-year-old Seattle resident was looking for something that scaled. So on a trip to his native Morocco he asked around. What he heard was a desire for government to work better. Even basic contact information for agencies in the North African country can be difficult to find. Simple procedures, like renewing a driver’s license, can require multiple trips to various offices. And public officials themselves? Virtually inaccessible. “It’s little things,” Rahmouni says. “It’s going to a public institution and not having to pay a bribe to get your basic paperwork.” 

In September 2012 the Microsoftie launched govpinion.com, a sort of Yelp for Moroccan public officials and institutions, in the hopes that reviews from citizens could inspire change. Rahmouni isn’t taking on the government, though; he’s more of a bridge builder. In fact, he hopes to invite pols to hold weekly “office hours” on the site to answer citizens’ questions. Govpinion has already been nominated for a web award in Morocco, but Rahmouni is more interested in other things—like redefining what it means to be a citizen of Morocco.

 

Published: May 2013

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