WILL THE USA STAY IN OGP IN 2017? Today, we published a new analysis examining the future of United States involvement in the Open Government Partnership, which convenes its global summit in Paris today, including the stakes for open data domestically. Your correspondent:
One of President Obama’s most under-appreciated legacies may be a global partnership founded on the premise that the United States would continue to be a beacon for open government and democratic norms for years to come. If that participation amounts to transparency theater by an administration hostile to public accountability, however, its value can and should be questioned by other states and members of civil society.
In 2017, the country that could end up being subject to unexpected, valuable pressure to meet the commitments in its national action plan by dozens of countries participating in OGP may end up being the United States of America. Should that effort fail, a global tide of populism may bring with it more closed societies, which provide fertile ground for authoritarianism.
Preventing that future by upholding democratic norms for freedom of information, access, distribution and the press will be primary goals in the years ahead, from D.C. to Paris to Tokyo to Buenos Aires and beyond.
DIVEST AND DISCLOSE: Sunlight is continuing to add to our page tracking President-elect Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest.
TRACKING THE TRANSITION
- NDA USA? Nancy Cook: “Trump transition team members had to sign a code of ethics with a pretty significant lobbying ban, but they’ve also had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to make certain they keep all of their work confidential, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO.” Such an agreement should be proactively disclosed or, at minimum, acknowledged. The team has done neither. [Politico]
- President-elect Trump’s spokesman said that the real estate mogul sold all of his shares in stocks in June, but provided no evidence to back up the assertion. [Washington Post]
- 132 DAYS: Since Election Day, Trump has tweeted about the New York Times seven times, the popular vote three times, and critiqued both Saturday Night Live and Hamilton two times each. Trump’s last press conference was on July 27, 2016. Both President Bush and Obama held a press conference within three days of accepting the results of the election. As we said before the election, regular press conferences are an essential part of the accountability we can and should expect of the President of the United States – and a President-elect.
- Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward report that the Department of Defense is burying research that contained evidence of $125 billion in waste. This sounds like something Congress should be looking into — and the DATA Act should help to capture.
“Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.
The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.” [Washington Post]
STATE AND LOCAL
- Will California legislature follow or evade the state’s new sunshine law? [Sacramento Bee]
- Proposed reforms to Virginia’s open records law is reform in name only, says the Virginian-Pilot editorial board. [Virginian-Pilot]
- A new report from the United Nations found that the number of nations that publish open government data has more than doubled since 2014. Wyatt Kash: “The report, the latest in a series of biannual surveys documenting the evolution of electronic government globally, found that 106 out of 193 member countries now make open government data catalogues, or data sets, available to the public, up from 46 countries in 2014. The 2016 global survey also found overall that 128 countries now provide government spending data in machine-readable formats, making it easier for the public to analyze government spending patterns.” [Fedscoop]
- The Open Government Partnership’s Global Summit is ongoing in Paris, France. You can watch today’s plenary online, starting at 3 PM ET, at opgsummit.org and follow along at #OGP16 on Twitter. Sunlight’s Steven Larrick will be presenting on “Remix to Reform,” with Greg Jordan-Dettamore tomorrow. Please send us news and announcements.
- The Public Interest Declassification Board will hold a public meeting to “discuss recommendations for improved transparency and open government for the new Presidential Administration” in DC on Dec. 8. [RSVP]
- What events will YOU be attending over the next six months? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.