2Day in #OpenGov 6/8/2011

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Here is Wednesday’s look at transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events.

News Roundup:

Lobbying

  • Justice Department records show that several Democratic lobbying firms have been increasing lobbying activities on behalf of foreign clients. (The Hill)

Campaign Finance

  • A federal judge declined a request from the government to reconsider his ruling that the federal ban on direct corporate contributions to political candidates is unconstitutional. (Washington Post)(Roll Call $)

Access to Information

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made its “Inspections Database” publicly available online in a searchable format. (FDA.Gov)
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is using FOIA to request access to Department of Justice records regarding investigations into allegations that Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) earmarked millions for campaign donors in return for government contracts. (Courthouse News Service)
  • 24,199 pages of emails sent between former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and state officials will be released Friday morning. (MSNBC)
  • The federal government plans to officially release the complete Pentagon Papers on the 40-year anniversary of when they were first leaked to the press and published by the New York Times. (New York Times)
  • There are a number of apps available for various smart phones to help users stay up-to-date on Congressional activities. (Library of Congress)

Government

  • The Senate confirmed former Recording Industry Association of America lawyer Donald Verrilli Jr. to replace Elena Kagan as Solicitor General. (Wired)
  • The government could save $50 million per year by having all government agencies adopt the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board’s unique data reporting model and consolidate spending data displays into one website, according to the board’s chairman. (iWatch News)
  • Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) released a report Monday summarizing reviews of 113 unclassified Defense  Inspector General audits from FY 2010, finding the vast majority of the audits to be of poor quality. (Government Executive)
  • President Obama announced four nominees to serve as U.S. District Court judges. (Politico)

Ethics

  • The Justice Department has reopened its investigation into George Demos, a former Republican Congressional candidate from New York, for improper behavior, including betraying the confidence of a whistleblower, while at the SEC. (Sense on Cents)

State and Local

  • Puerto Rico is restructuring its procurement processes to improve efficiency, impartiality, and transparency. (Lobby Comply Blog)
  • Opinion: A New York Times editorial states that while the ethics reform legislation in Albany is a step in the right direction, the ethics commission created by the legislation is “so deeply flawed in its structure as to be wholly ineffective.” (New York Times)
  • Opinion: Robert Harding writes that the two most important pieces of Albany’s “Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011” are the independent Joint Commission on Public Ethics and enhanced disclosure requirements that require state employees to disclose outside income sources, names of clients, and conflicts of interest. (Auburn Pub)

Relevant committee hearings scheduled for 6/8:

  • None.

Relevant bills introduced:

  • S. 1154. A bill to require transparency for Executive departments in meeting the Government-wide goals for contracting with small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Transparency events scheduled for 6/8:

 

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