Today in #OpenGov 8/7/2014


Keep reading for today’s look at #OpenGov news, events, and analysis, including a surreptitious end to reports and data on hospital errors, the release of a notable Chinese dissident lawyer and anti-corruption activist, and a lobbyist-turned-Congressional candidate painting herself as a Washington outsider despite her activity on the Hill.

A newspaper with the headline Open Gov

National News

  • The federal government this month quietly stopped publicly reporting when hospitals leave foreign objects in patients’ bodies or make a host of other life-threatening mistakes. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services removed data on eight avoidable “hospital acquired conditions” (HACs) on its hospital comparison site last summer, and recently completely scrapped this data release. (USA Today)
  • Amazon has augmented its political machinery, hiring a crop of new lobbyists and writing bigger checks to members of Congress. It recently retained a powerhouse firm in Washington, D.C., to lobby the Federal Aviation Administration on delivery drones and has won a key government technology contract. (Politico)
  • Ride sharing services like Uber, facing heavy lobbying opposition from taxi and insurance companies, may have found unexpected support in the RNC. But in an online petition supporting Uber, the RNC seems to have an ulterior motive, asking for signatory names, email addresses, and zip codes–contact information about young, urban 20 year-old Uber users that the Republican party struggles to court. (Washington Post)

International News

  • Australia’s Attorney General, George Brandis, faced much scrutiny after an interview on Sky News about metadata collection and whistleblowing. As he called for an expansion in data collection and retention, he erroneously suggested that the collection of visited websites does not constitute web tracking. (TechDirt)
  • Edward Snowden has been granted a three-year residence permit to live in Russia. In five years, Snowden would be able to apply for Russian citizenship. (The Hill)
  • One of China’s most famous dissident lawyers and anti-corruption advocates, Gao Zhisheng, was released from prison on Thursday. His release comes after eight years of repeated detention and, he has said, torture. (New York Times)

State and Local News

  • In Virginia’s 10th District,  veteran lobbyist Barbara Comstock is attempting to win the seat for the Republicans as a Washington outsider. She’s anything but, having served as principal at the firm Blank Rome LLP, where she represented Koch Industries, lobbying on crime and environmental issues. (In The Capital)
  • More than a year after the two most senior executives at Bonneville Power Administration were rocked by a hiring scandal, the agency and its federal parent, the U.S. Department of Energy, continue to shield themselves from public scrutiny by systematically blocking and delaying the release of related public records. (Oregonian)
  • GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons acknowledged he is the money behind Better Leaders for Arizona, a group pounding Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey. His rival Republican candidate, Christine Jones, was executive vice president of GoDaddy. (AZ Central)

Events Today

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