Today in #OpenGov 8/11/2014
Keep reading for today’s look at #OpenGov news, events, and analysis, including the Patent and Trademark Office’s struggle with its work-at-home program following fibbed timesheets and undeserved bonuses, Australia’s suppression of the press surrounding a foreign bribery scandal, and the Californian city of Santa Ana’s nondisclosure of information about the Mayor’s new house–and the seller who received a contract over a million dollars following the house’s discounted sale.
- Prompted by multiple whistleblower complaints, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office internally investigated its work-at-home program. The final report was damning: the office’s 8,300 patent examiners repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in, and many were receiving bonuses for work they didn’t do. (Washington Post)
- Defense and security contractors have increasingly become donation juggernauts, with a recent Center for Responsive Politics report finding that Northrop Grumman, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Raytheon, and Boeing are now among the top 50 donors to federal candidate campaigns. (Roll Call)
- Activists and politicians on the left have called on President Obama to check the authority of spy agencies, following revelations that the CIA monitored the Senate. Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have all called for Brennan to step down, and other lawmakers have suggested charges should be pressed against the CIA officials. (The Hill)
- Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald addressed a veterans group for the first time since his appointment, touting his vision of a more transparent, technologically advanced, and better audited VA. Following the passage of a law to overhaul the beleaguered agency, McDonald now has $16.3 billion in his disposal to reach these goals. (Politico)
- The Australian government issued a suppression order to stop the media from reporting key details of a scandal that involved foreign bribery in the printing of Australian bank notes, allegedly implicating people from Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The court order, apparently in the interests of national security, has been lambasted as a gag on the press. (Transparency International)
- John Kerry, speaking at the East Asia Summit in Myanmar, called for the host country to stay on a path to democracy following a recent backslide on media freedoms. Five journalists were recently convicted of divulging state secrets and sentenced to 10 years of prison with hard labor after publishing a disputed article on a weapons factory. (New York Times)
- A new whistleblower protection Act in Ireland puts shape on what was previously a piecemeal and fragmented area of law” and improves the safety and standing of whistleblowers, according to an Irish Independent Opinion piece on the new legislation. (Independent.ie)
State and Local News
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed new legislation that will start the process of creating a new, data-friendly online portal for the City Record. The bill requires the City Record be published in a machine-readable format and be fully searchable. (Gotham Gazette)
- The City of Santa Ana denied a request under the California Public Records Act for the city attorney’s investigative report on Mayor Miguel Pulido’s property swap with a city contractor, citing ongoing investigations by law enforcement agencies. In the swap, the Pulidos received a house for $230,000 below fair market value, and the house’s seller later was awarded a $1.35 million, no-bid contract to provide auto parts to the city. (Voice of Orange County)
- A recent California state Senate investigation of Caltrans, the state’s agency for highway, bridge, and rail transportation, called for more transparency in at the state and agency level following serious allegations of Caltrans’s unsafe construction practices on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. (Sacramento Bee)
Events This Week
- Foundations and Innovations in Archives. “Archives-Records: Ensuring Access” Conference. Tues., 8/12. 9:00 AM. Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road NW, Washington, D.C.
- Veterans and Their Smartphones: Creating a 21st-Century Veterans Service System. American Enterprise Institute. Tues., 8/12. 12:00 PM. 1150 17th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
- The Launch of DemTools: Open Source for Opening Politics. National Democratic Institute. Tues., 8/12. 4:00 PM. 455 Massachusetts Avenue NW, 8th Floor Washington, D.C.
- Africa Development Forum Event: A New Strategy for Civil Society Development for Africa. Society for International Development. Weds., 8/13. 12:00 PM. 1155 15th Street NW, 7th Floor, Washington, D.C.
- Transparency Time: Wikipedia-Editing for Congress. Cato Institute. Mon., 8/18. 12:00 PM. B-354, Rayburn Office Building, Washington D.C.
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