Today in OpenGov: Pardons, government sabbaticals, trust in government, corruption abroad, Bridgegate and more


A FIRST: As we noted in our audit last Friday, half of cabinet agencies had not uploaded a 2016 open government plan, as directed by the White House. As of Monday, the Commerce Department had caught up, publishing its 4.0 plan online. The other tardy cabinet agencies still haven’t caught up. Regrettably, the Department of Veterans Affairs has not published a new plan since 2010. On the brighter side, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representatives updated its empty /open page and uploaded a 2016 open government plan … and, in an unprecedented move, the U.S. General Services Administration, “in the spirit of our open source commitment,” forked the design from the National Archives and Record Administration’s Open Government Plan on Github and uploaded its 2016 Open Government Plan for public comment as a living document. Congratulations to everyone involved for setting a new bar for collaboration across agencies using the web.

MEMORIES: Shahrzad Rizvi shared his thoughts on government sabbaticals after his summer fellowship at Sunlight. We miss his humor and insight! [Sunlight]

IDEAS, PLEASE! We’ve opened up TCamp’s 2016 “Submit a Session” page and are now accepting suggestions! This is your chance to propose sessions that you either want to lead or see others take on. Soon, we’ll open up the schedule so folks can vote on ideas they want to see the most. If your session (or one that you’ve voted on) is one of the top vote-getters, it will be guaranteed a slot at TCamp. But hurry: Proposing sessions is only open for a limited time. Registration is open for TransparencyCamp in Cleveland on October 14-15. Please submit a session, spread the word and come! [REGISTER]



  • The lessons of history suggest it’s better for presidential candidates to be transparent to the public about their finances and health. [Univision]
  • If a candidate breaks political norms without electoral consequences, other people will follow. [New York Times]
  • Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has broken GOP records with small campaign donors. [Politico]
  • Public records show Trump received $885 million in tax breaks and subsidies for New York City buildings. [New York Times]
  • Former President Bill Clinton conceded that some donors may have given to the Clinton Foundation in an effort to gain influence. [Time]
  • Despite transparency regarding its charitable programs, many voters don’t know what the Clinton Foundation does. [New York Times]
  • Billionaire Charles Koch has begun consolidating the advocacy groups his donor network backs into one political arm, Americans for Prosperity. [Washington Post]



  • Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes weighed in on the case for and against President Obama issuing a pardon for Edward Snowden. [Lawfare]
  • Steven Aftergood sorted through the aftermath of Snowden’s disclosures following a House Intelligence Report that came in for withering criticism over the weekend. [FAS]
  • Professor Dan Drezner considered whether the erosion of public trust in government could be at an end. [Washington Post]
  • The Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General is adopting a practice of proactive disclosure of summaries and redacted versions of classified reports. [FedNewsRadio]
  • Sunlight joined other good government advocates in praising the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which would create an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection led by a presidential appointee within the Department of Veterans Affairs. [FedNewsRadio]
  • The Federal Aviation Association is set to become a space traffic cop. [WSJ]
  • Government disclosure of security vulnerabilities has become a hot political topic. [Mozilla]
  • A federal court in DC has begun to unseal secret records on to the U.S. government’s use of electronic surveillance. As Jason Leopold reports, it’s a “major victory for journalists and privacy and transparency advocates.” [Vice]



  • Federal prosecutors told a court today that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie knew about intentional lane delays in a bridge, contradicting his public statements in the years since. [New York Times]
  • While the utility of an emergency alert system on mobile devices for weather is clear, text only alerts about persons of interest to law enforcement need to used more carefully and contextually than they were over the past 24 hours in New York City. [New York Magazine]
  • Government technology represents an estimated $141 billion dollar annual market in the USA, between municipal, state and federal government. Aging legacy IT, public demand for services, open data and workforce retirement are an opportunity for entrepreneurs, as Luke Fretwell outlines in his “pitch for government technology,” but he underbills the challenges that regulatory and procurement hurdles pose to startups and the role lobbying plays in favoring incumbent companies selling tech to governments. This is a major set of issues for mayors the next administration to take on. [TechCrunch]



  • Despite rhetoric about and the data on it, foreign assistance spending is still not accurate nor fully transparent. [Center for Global Development]
  • Nathaniel Heller comments on ways Senator Ben Cardin’s bill could be improved to better combat corruption around the world. [Foreign Policy]
  • This is how “declassification diplomacy” works. [Washington Post]
  • Tomorrow marks the 5th anniversary of the launch of the Open Government Partnership. OGP is marking the occasion with an event at the United Nations General Assembly at 5 PM ET tomorrow, which will be live-streamed on the OGP website. They’re encouraging friends and partners to share memories and aspirations for the partershup using the hashtag #5YearsOGP on TwitterFacebook and  Instagram.





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