Today in OpenGov: Wrapping up Sunshine Week, parsing Trump’s budget, and more


Looking for ways to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day? Check out Ireland’s colorful, CKAN powered open data portal. Meanwhile, in today’s edition, the sun sets on Sunshine Week, Trump drops his budget request, Phoenix embraces open data, and more…

Sunshine Week

  • Senator Chuck Grassley shared strong words in support of FOIA and transparency more broadly. In a post on Medium the Iowa Republican celebrated the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 while promising continued vigilance and oversight. “But we can’t just rest on our laurels. No matter which party is in control of Congress or the White House, continuing oversight of FOIA — and the faithful implementation of its amendments — is essential to ensure the law’s effectiveness as a tool for the public good,” he wrote. (Senator Grassley)
  • Sen. Grassley teamed up with Sen. Amy Klobuchar to call for courtroom transparency. Earlier this week the bipartisan tandem “introduced the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act to give all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, the option of allowing their judicial proceedings to be photographed, recorded, broadcast or televised.” (The Hill)
  • Data from 30,000 FOI requests at federal, state, and local level sheds light on response times. MuckRock analyzed their database and found that “despite FOIA’s reputation for being an eternity of waiting, our numbers indicate that while there are delays, most agencies are good at getting you a response within a month or so.” (MuckRock)
  • The National Security Archive rounded up the busy week’s worth of FOIA news. The roundup kicked off with an analysis of the Office of Information Policy’s concerning response to the dissapointing results of the Archive’s annual FOIA Audit, which found that 3 out of 5 agencies have failed to update their FOIA regulations in response to the FOIA Improvement Act. (National Security Archive)

Phoenix Suns(hine)

  • Phoenix, AZ has teamed up with OpenGov on a new open data platform. “The new open source platform will improve both internal and public access to key information, such as public safety and transportation data” in Phoenix, the 6th largest city in the United States. (OpenGov)
  • Los Angeles is leveraging open data and mapping technology to clean up its streets. “Los Angeles, California’s comprehensive Clean Streets LA (CSLA) initiative is effectively addressing street cleanliness using the power of data and mapping. Through a CSLA initiative called CleanStat, Los Angeles is the first city to map the cleanliness of every one of its blocks.” (Data-Smart City Solutions)

Data, Technology, and the Trump budget

President Trump released his budget proposal yesterday. We can expect a long time and a lot of debate before Congress approves a final budget, but it is worth considering what the President’s proposal might mean for government data and transparency programs. We’ve rounded up some initial stories and analysis below and are on the look out for more. If you’re tracking the budget and have a story to share please do by emailing us at

  • Good news for the Census? There has been some concern that the 2020 Decennial Census would be targeted for cuts “threatening the accuracy of the constitutionally mandated tally of Americans. But Trump has proposed boosting the project’s funds, particularly for technology needed to gather the data.”  (Bloomberg)
  • A focus on federal IT? The Trump budget puts some focus on streamlining federal information technology and “…proposes using data to find solutions, and sharing and adopting best practices from the private and public sectors.” Specific items include more money for IT at the Veterans Affairs department (FedScoop)
  • NOAA’s in trouble, but its satellites are safe. The budget proposal recommends a $250 million cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “but there’s one area of the massive data-collecting agency he seems keen on sparing: its satellite fleet.” The agencies satellites are vital to weather forecasting, a variety of business applications, and more. (Bloomberg)
  • The fate of the US Digital Service remains unclear. “Formed as a continuation of the private sector tech experts who helped salvage, the USDS has since grown and expanded to become the go-to team for managing difficult digital projects across agencies, and now includes branches within the Defense Department. But will it survive in the Trump administration?” (FedTech Magazine)

data on the hill

  • Time to pass the “DATA Act for the financial industry.” Just reintroduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)) “the Financial Transparency Act would direct the government’s eight financial regulatory agencies to adopt data standards for the information they collect from the private sector in order to reduce duplication, burden and fraud and make it available for download, accessible via application programming interfaces and easily searchable. Currently, companies must supply reports in both machine-readable and paper – or PDF – formats.” (Federal Computer Week)
  • Lawmakers look to protect privacy, increase transparency around drones. “Two Democratic lawmakers proposed legislation Wednesday that they said would protect individuals’ privacy and inform the public about the U.S. government’s expanded drone use.” (The Hill)
  • Senator Claire McCaskill introduced a bill that would improve contract transparency. S. 651, the Contractor Accountability and Transparency Act of 2017, would make more robust contract information publicly accessible through (Senator McCaskill) Sunlight has joined a bipartisan coalition letter in support of this legislation, arguing that “Posting copies of contracts—rather than summary data that offers little, if any, insights into the goods and services being purchased—is essential to learning about government activities and eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and substandard performance.”


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