TRANSITIONS: Though our path remains uncertain, the staff at Sunlight are dedicated to continuing on our mission of making governments and politics more transparent and accountable to the public. This includes our work on open data policies in cities, the 2016 campaign, and the remaining days of the Obama administration and the presidential transition. As Sunlight’s former advisor and current friend Micah Sifry highlighted in Civicist, we’re all still here in DC, hard at work. Thank you for your kind messages, tweets, DMs, calls, and inquiries. We’ll share more as we can.
UPDATES: Many of you are wondering what’s next for Sunlight Labs. Labs Director Kat Duffy explains: “We have a lot of projects to work through, and a short amount of time in which to execute that vision. I will depart Sunlight as Labs Director on Nov. 11, and until that day, I will be working with the incomparable Bill Hunt (as well as some amazing Sunlight Labs staff and alumni) to close down Labs efficiently, responsibly and transparently. Where possible, we will work with our friends and partners to construct viable futures for existing projects. Our primary goal, though, is to ensure that Labs’ products are available to everyone freely and equally in a useful format. If you are interested in adopting a Labs project, or you are currently using one of our projects and need assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to track our process, follow @sunfoundation, @sunlightlabs and #sunlabslove on Twitter for updates.” [READ MORE]
TCAMP? Another common question is about our annual unconference, TransparencyCamp on October 14-15 in Cleveland. Answer, also from Kat: “TCamp is ON. It is SO ON. It is ON-NER than ON. And it’s going to be amazing.” Please #TCamp16 for updates on Twitter, register. and submit a session idea! [READ MORE]
REACTIONS: Sunlight’s news has understandably catalyzed some soul searching in our networks and the communities that care about us and that we care about in turn. Beyond The Atlantic and Nonprofit Quarterly, Adam Schweigert wrote about funding civic infrastructure for INN, the Mediashift Podcast dug in, and Micah wrote a lovely encomium. Please send more.
- Our investigative work tracking lobbyist superdelegates at the Democratic National Convention was featured on “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee!” [Sunlight]
- Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has still not released his tax returns. Here’s why that disclosure matters.
- New York State’s Attorney General is investigating the Trump Foundation but turning a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation. [Sunlight]
- The next President of the United States, whomever he or she is, will inherit a legacy and commitments on open government from the Obama administration. [Huffington Post]
- Facebook sent a prompt to its U.S. users today about registering to vote. Facebook’s choice to add this civic feature is already sending a flood of traffic to Vote.gov. Thanks to 18F, the public can use Analytics.usa.gov to see that Vote.usa,gov was the most popular federal webpage this morning and has continued to be when this post was written, with thousands of people on the page at the same moment. This is what public-private collaboration looks like in the 21st century. What’s less obvious is the prompt’s impact on registration, but we can guess that it will be significant: During a two-day push by Facebook this summer, almost 200,000 people registered to vote or updated their records in California. Facebook, Snapchat the U.S. Digital Service, the General Services Administration and state election officials around the country need to be transparent about who sees this prompt, where, when and the outcomes from it. It matters. [Sunlight]
- As we noted earlier this week, the White House released a progress report Tuesday on its third Open Government National Action Plan, which expanded on the nation’s open data commitments. We talked to Fedscoop about what’s in it — and what’s not. [Fedscoop]
- An investigation by the Scientific American found substantial evidence of media manipulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
“Documents obtained by Scientific American through Freedom of Information Act requests now paint a disturbing picture of the tactics that are used to control the science press. For example, the FDA assures the public that it is committed to transparency, but the documents show that, privately, the agency denies many reporters access—including ones from major outlets such as Fox News—and even deceives them with half-truths to handicap them in their pursuit of a story. At the same time, the FDA cultivates a coterie of journalists whom it keeps in line with threats. And the agency has made it a practice to demand total control over whom reporters can and can’t talk to until after the news has broken, deaf to protests by journalistic associations and media ethicists and in violation of its own written policies. By using close-hold embargoes and other methods, the FDA, like other sources of scientific information, are gaining control of journalists who are supposed to keep an eye on those institutions.” [SciAm]
STATE AND LOCAL
- Topeka, Kansas just became the latest city to pass an open data policy! Great work by Sunlight’s local open data policy team here, as usual. [Sunlight]
- The shooting of Keith Lamont in Charlotte puts a white-hot spotlight on the need for disclosure of police body cameras. [Sunlight]
- California is putting more use of force data from its police departments online. [TechCrunch]
- The use of encrypted smartphone apps by city officials is putting new pressure on open records laws. While this story is about Chattanooga, it’s relevant to every municipality in the world. [Nooga.com]
- Millions of voting records from Louisiana have leaked online. It’s critical that governments think through the public interest balancing test in disclosures and do not create negative incentives for registration. [Motherboard]
- The Open Government Partnership Steering Committee resolved that Turkey will be designated as inactive in OGP. Kudos to OGP for recognizing that Turkey’s actions are antagonistic to open government, press freedom and democracy. [OpenGovPart]
- Ontario, Canada is disclosing minister’s mandate letters. [Ontario.ca]
- Collections as Data, at the Library of Congress in D.C. on Sept. 27. [RSVP]
- White House Open Data Innovation Summit at Data Transparency 2016 on Sept 28 in Washington, DC. [RSVP]
- Computation and Journalism Symposium at Stanford University on Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in California. [RSVP]
- There will be an Open Data Research Symposium in Madrid on Oct. 5. [RSVP]
- The International Open Data Conference will be in Madrid from Oct. 6–7. [RSVP]
- The National Freedom of Information Coalition and the D.C. Open Government Coalition will convene a Freedom of Information summit October 7-8, 2016 in DC. [RSVP]
- TransparencyCamp will be in Cleveland, Ohio from Oct. 14-15. [RSVP]
- The Code for America Summit is in Oakland, Calif. on Nov. 1–3. [RSVP]
- There will be a workshop on Data and Algorithmic Transparency at Columbia University on Nov. 19. Proposals due Sept. 9. [RSVP]
- The Open Government Partnership’s Global Summit will be Dec. 7-9 in Paris, France. [VOTE FOR SUNLIGHT’S TECHNOLOGY AND FOI PROPOSALS!]
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