Today in OpenGov: Sunshine Week Dawns


In today’s edition we kick off our Sunshine Week celebrations, find open data on the Daily Show, help share feedback on local policies, and more…

Sunshine week


Sunshine Week kicks off today and continues throughout the week. We will be doing our best to keep up with all the news and events as we spend the week celebrating access to public information and the importance of a vibrant free press!
  • A pessimistic outlook for Freedom of Information around America… A new report from James Cuillier at the University of Arizona School of Journalism found “dissatisfaction, uncertainty, and worry” among more than 300 FOI experts across the country. The report highlights a number of solutions to the problems it identifies. (Knight Foundation)
  • …and reasons for hope. There are ways to improve the FOI outlook including new technological approaches and an increased focus on the public’s understanding of their right to know. “One of the most effective weapons is for the public to understand its right to know and why it is important for us to fight for access to government information. One of the ideas outlined in the report includes finding ways to expand Sunshine Week because the right to access  information belongs to everyone, not just journalists.” (Knight Foundation)
  • The Project on Government Oversight powers up for Sunshine Week. Our friends at POGO have a full week of events planned to celebrate Sunshine Week including a discussion at the Newseum and a “live chat” with the New York Times. Check out their whole schedule here.
  • Celebrate with Sunlight. Join us on Thursday for a discussion with open government experts from the Project on Government Oversight, the Federation of American Scientists, and the American Society of News Editors. Stick around afterwards for our annual Sunshine Happy Hour.

States and cities


  • An open data policy feedback success story. Matt Bailey, formerly the Director of Technology Innovation with Washington, DC’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, sat down with Sunlight’s Stephen Larrick and Alyssa Doom to discuss the successful efforts to encourage public feedback on  DC’s draft open data policy. (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Data invades the C-suite… CIO and CTOs are still dominant in many organiations, but in a growing number of cities, an emerging set of 3 new C-suite executives is working closely to collect, release and apply open data: chief data officer, chief performance officer, chief accountability officer. (Government Technology)
  • …But its public face needs improvement. Open data platforms must be improved to ensure that government information is actually useful to the public. (Scientific American)
  • Open data takes a bite out of the Big Apple. New York’s embrace of open data has already started changing how the city operates, but leaders are angling for more citizen involvement. To that end they are “working on ways to make [NYC’s open data] more user-friendly. Part of that is a new website that packages the information in less of an intimidating spreadsheet-design, plus outreach to community boards who can use the data to guide decisions about local policy.” (am New York)

around the world


  • Transparency in the face of rising populism. Helen Darbishire argues forcefully in favor of transparency’s ability to strengthen democracy. “And so this is my answer to doubters who are concerned that high profile transparency campaigns might have a negative impact: if we are ever to address the democratic deficit in Europe, if we are ever to root out corruption and achieve acceptable levels of integrity in political life, then we need much more rather than less transparency, and we need much stronger mechanisms to ensure that information enters the public domain – mechanisms that must include both strong access to information laws and solid whistleblower protection – so that we can have a proper debate about how to address the issues.” (Access Info)
  • The power of partnership. A trans-Atlantic partnership between the Mexican government, the Open Data Institute, and DEMOS is helping support Mexican open data as well as the local startup community. (The Open Data Institute)
  • Trying to shake off the graft in South Korea. “South Korea is turning to a daunting yet familiar task in the aftermath of Park Geun-hye’s ouster: Rooting out corruption among political and business leaders.” (Bloomberg)

to preserve, protect, and defend open data


  • Open Data on the Daily Show. The Daily Show took note of efforts to save federal climate change data from potential threats, marking a major mainstream breakthrough for the ongoing “data rescue” efforts to archive potentially vulnerable federal data on a range of subjects.  (The Daily Show)
  • Who’s afraid of federal data going dark? As it turns out, historians, librarians, journalists, climate scientists, internet activists, and more. According to our own Alex Howard the “networking and connectivity of groups working on [archiving federal data], and the degree it is being driven by librarians and scientists and professors,” is unprecedented. (McClatchy DC)
  • What’s been saved so far. As of last week nearly 160 data sets had been saved in their entirety on (Quartz)
  • The biggest risks to open government data are political. Sunlight has been tracking the state of federal open data throughout the year. Currently we see the greatest risk to open government data as political, not technical. “The future of open government data is in your hands — and those of our elected representatives in Congress, who have the power of the purse. As with other issues that are fundamental to our democracy, what happens next will depend upon all of us to protect and defend the data. We’ve done it together before. We’ll be with you in the days and weeks ahead.” (Sunlight Foundation)


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