WHY SAVE DATA.GOV?
—Harlan Yu: “When agency staff have data they want to publish, they use a special part of the Data.gov website, which outside users never see, called the Data Management System (DMS). This back-end administrative interface allows agency points-of-contact to efficiently coordinate publishing activities agency-wide, and it gives individual data stewards a way to easily upload, view and maintain their own datasets. … My main concern is that this invaluable but undeappreciated infrastructure will be lost when IT systems are de-funded. The individual roles and responsibilities, the informal norms and pressures, and perhaps even the tacit authority to put new datasets online would likely also disappear. The loss of structure would probably mean that sharply reduced amounts of data will be put online in the future. The datasets that do get published in an ad hoc way would likely lack the uniformity and quality that the current process creates. … Releasing a new dataset online is already a difficult task for many agencies. While the current standards and processes may be far from perfect, Data.gov provides agencies with a firm footing on which they can base their transparency efforts. I don’t know how much funding is necessary to maintain these critical back-end processes, but whatever Congress decides, it should budget sufficient funds—and direct that they be used—to preserve these critically important tools.”
NUCLEAR LOBBYING REVOLVING DOOR
—NYT: “As a congressman, Rep. Robert Walker extolled the safety of nuclear power, arguing that technology prevented radiation poisoning during the meltdown at Three Mile Island. … He’s buttressing nuclear again today, this time working from the inside. Retired from the House, the Pennsylvania Republican provides strategic advice to the trade group Nuclear Energy Institute. … Walker is one of more than 240 lobbyists for companies with nuclear interests who came through the government-to-industry revolving door. … A Greenwire analysis of companies involved in nuclear found that the overwhelming majority of their lobbyists previously worked on Capitol Hill or in a presidential administration. The portion ranges from a high of 83 percent at Energy Future Holdings Corp., which operates a Texas nuclear plant, to 69 percent at Entergy Corp., the country’s second largest nuclear generator.”
LACK OF PUNISHMENT FOR LAWMAKERS LEADS TO LENIENCY FOR ABRAMOFF FIGURE
—Roll Call: “A former Congressional staffer embroiled in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal will avoid prison time after the judge in the case questioned why Members of Congress have mostly stayed off the hook in the Justice Department’s probe, the Associated Press reported Thursday. … U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle decided not to impose a prison sentence on John Albaugh, a one-time aide to former Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.), even though prosecutors had recommended a sentence of two years. … “There are three or four Congressmen out there that will never see the light of day for actions, and we’re blaming the staffers,” Huvelle said, according to the AP. “The people that really benefited from this scheme, with one exception, aren’t the people in front of me.”