Today in OpenGov: Congress to debate merits of open government data!


Top Story: Congress to consider making open data the default in federal government. As soon as next week, the “Open, Permanent, Electronic, and Necessary (OPEN) Government Data Act” will be introduced in Congress, providing a legislative vehicle to make the open data policy of the Obama administration into the law of the land. The bill is a short, clear approach to ensuring that open data endures for generations to come. We’ll have more to say about it when it’s formally introduced.


  • Microsoft is suing the U.S. Department of Justice, “challenging the constitutionality of the gag orders issued by the government that prevent tech companies from informing their customers when their data is accessed as part of an investigation.” [TechCrunch]
  • The Obama administration is considering elimination the lowest of the three major tiers for classified information. [Politico]
  • A Freedom of Information Act request showed that the FBI tried to defeat encryption 10 years ago. [New York Times]
  • The Department of Homeland Security made a comment (in a .xlsx file, no less) that open source software is like giving the Mafia a copy of FBI systems code. [Nextgov]
  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy launched as part of the White House Science Fair. Here’s some context for why citizen science matters to society. [HuffPost] Birders who stomp around in the snow for the Christmas Bird Count are already wise to this idea.
  • Are political appointees barriers to government efficiency and effectiveness? A new study from the Brookings Institute makes the case. [Brookings]
  • One point in there we certainly agree with: Inspector Generals are critical components of holding agencies accountable. Unfortunately, as POGO’s IG dashboard highlights, many federal agencies still have vacancies in the role, some going back years.
  • Wine retailer David Trone has spent 9.1 million dollars of his own money running for the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, putting him on track to be the biggest self-funding House candidate in history. [Washington Post]
  • This is why the NAACP cares about campaign finance reform. []
  • Higher travel costs, lower access to the President and senior officials, and the @WhiteHouse “going direct” online are raising questions about the role of the White House press corps is playing. [CJR]
  • A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office said that the federal government has a data problem. [FCW]
  • Once again, it’s time to nominate a government agency for the Investigative Reports and Editor’s Golden Padlock award for secrecy.
  • And on the flipside of that theme, the OpenGov Foundation announced the winners of the inaugural Door Stop Awards for open government last night in DC.

STATE and local

  • The Florida Supreme Court ruled that government agencies that lose lawsuits over public records must pay the fees of plaintiffs. [Tampa Bay Times]
  • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law a bill that would investigate the compliance of Howard County officials with public information laws. [Baltimore Sun]
  • The Democratic party and the Clinton campaign are going to sue Arizona over voting rights. [Washington Post]
  • OpenGov Inc acquired Ontodia, an open data startup. [OpenGov]
  • A hackathon in Sacramento, California focused on apps to help fight homelessness and assist people with disabilities. [Govtech]
  • Why does Portland, Oregon need open data? The founder of HackOregon is drawing public attention to changes the city’s attorney made to an amendment to the City of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan for the future. The shift isn’t towards openness. [Medium]


  • Imagine an democracy built on lotteries, not elections? [Zocalo Public Square]
  • The director of MySociety made a case against seamless services in local government. “The desire for seamless services creates perverse incentives within councils to establish a monoculture of centrally controlled and closed services — at odds with the promise of government as a platform.” [Medium]


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