Today in OpenGov: Why it helps to look at state law if you’re running for president


STATING THE OBVIOUS: Emily Shaw returned to the blog, exploring why knowing state law is mighty relevant even if you’re running for a national office like the president. (Potential third-party candidates, take note!)

WITHER FOIA REFORM? Sunlight’s Alex Howard (your faithful correspondent) talked with Tom Temin on Federal News Radio this morning about the prospects for Freedom of Information Act reform in the 114th Congress. [LISTEN]

SENATOR, YOU’VE GOT MAIL: Sunlight rebuilt and relaunched our Email Congress tool, which enables the public to easily use their own email accounts to email a representative or senator. Check it out and let us know what you think!



  • Hudson Hollister, the executive director of the Data Coalition, gave Government Matters a progress report on the implementation of the DATA Act. You can watch his segment in the video embedded below.
  • Stephen Smith argued that “over the last 40 years, secrecy in all aspects of the judicial process has risen to literally unprecedented levels.” [Just Security]
  • Christopher Mims suggested the U.S. government transform itself through the lessons of Google and other tech companies. While it’s good to see the work of the USDS and 18F receive more attention, reinventing government through e-goverance and a customer service focus is an approach that former Vice President Al Gore might recognize from the ’90s. Everything old is new again. [Wall Street Journal]
  • If billionaire Donald Trump is elected president, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will lead his transition team. [Governing]
  • If you have feedback on the U.S. Patent Office’s new open data portal or the data on it, let us know. [Fedscoop]
  • The FOIA Advisory Committee submitted its final report and recommendations regarding fees, proactive disclosure, and oversight and accountability to the Archivist of the Untied States. Interesting data point: “In FY 2014, agencies processed 647,142 FOIA requests at a cost of $462 million dollars and recouped just $4.2 million dollars from FOIA fees, less than 1 percent of the reported cost.” [OGIS]
  • Speaking of FOIA, here’s a roundup of FOIAs about movies, dogs and guacamole. [CJR]
  • Responding to Gizmodo’s incendiary reports, conservatives are accusing Facebook of political bias. [New York Times]
  • Facebook’s head of Trending Topics, Tom Stocky, denied the allegations of Gizmodo’s anonymous sources in a post on Facebook, but not quickly enough to head off congressional interest: Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, sen Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a letter with five questions about how Trending Topics works, whether Gizmodo’s reporting was accurate. []

State and Local

  • Juliana Reyes explained why we should be talking about the Philadelphia’s stop-and-frisk data. []
  • High fees are hindering access to public records in Tennessee. [Knoxville News Sentinel]
  • The OpenGov Foundation is using “InnoMAYtion” to encourage DC government to do more civic engagement. []
  • Kevin Desouza argues that “open and frugal” should be the default in government IT. [Governing]
  • The U.S. Commerce Department, the city of San Francisco, the state of California and the City Innovate Foundation announced the opening of “Superpublic,” a 5,000 square foot co-working space in the City by the Bay. The big idea is that this “lab” will create a workspace for people to tackle big urban problems together. [SF Chronicle]
  • Orange County’s Water District has probably been violating California’s open meetings law — for years. [Voice Of OC]
  • A Colorado state Senate committee defeated legislation that would have allowed the state’s Department of Labor and Employment to disclose complaints of wage theft. [CFOIC]
  • Salt Lake City’s police department has launched a use-of-force data website. [KSL]
  • Alton, N.H., paid a resident $40,000 to settle a civil rights suit after arresting him during the public comment period of a select board hearing. [Concord Monitor]
  • Here’s a fine roundup of open government matters in Virginia. [OpenGovVA]


  • What lies behind the popular revolt against corruption in Mexico? “Middle class demanding accountability & better public services, tech-enabled citizen mobilization, and maturing of civil society,” suggested Felipe Estefan. [The Economist]
  • Open North submitted feedback on parliamentary openness and data for Canada’s consultation. [Open Canada]
  • Andy Dickinson blogged about open data filing cabinets and open data clubs. [Medium]
  • Will Perrin offered 13 ways newly elected Mayor Sadiq Khan can make the London administration more transparent. [talkaboutlocal]
  • Joe Powell wrote about three ways the Open Government Partnership can deliver real change from the United Kingdom’s anti-corruption summit. [OGP blog]
  • Speaking of fighting corruption, Nigeria may be joining the Open Government Partnership. [Guardian]
  • The man likely to be the next president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, said that he would be a “dictator” against evil and would step down in six months if he did not stamp out corruption in government. [CNN]
  • First Monday published a research paper on “fifty shades of open.” Don’t worry, it’s safe for work. [UIC]
  • The Web Foundation published its second regional report, this time focusing on East Asia and Pacific. Its conclusion?

    The 2015 Barometer results indicate that while East Asia and the Pacific performed relatively well as a region compared to Latin America and Africa, individual country performance remains stagnant, if not in decline, with the exceptions of Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines. The Philippines emerged as the biggest improver among all countries in the region, while Australia and New Zealand remain among the top ten highest scoring countries since the Barometer was launched. In 2015, and for the first time, South Korea joins as one of the top ten highest scoring countries globally. [Open Data Barometer]

  • Maybe all of these reform initiatives, data releases and legislative proposals are for naught: If we just wait a few years, “technology will replace the need for big government.” [Vice]

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