Today in OpenGov: The role of whistleblowers, reforms in Rhode Island, and more…


In today's edition we enjoy another day of Sunshine (Week), track OpenGov news on the east coast, welcome new leadership to the Open Government Partnership, check in on President Trump's conflicts, and more…

One more day of sunshine

  • A dozen FOIA experts shared their best advice. Jonathan Peters observed Sunshine Week by asking "a dozen FOIA experts for one piece of advice that would help journalists and others use the FOIA effectively." Top tips? Get help from experts, do your research, make human contact, and don't hesitate to appeal. (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • Advocates raised Trump transparency concerns. Panelists shared concerns about transparency in the Trump administration and highlighted the importance of whistleblowers at a "discussion organized by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight [which focused] on how the press and activists can pressure agencies to improve their responsiveness to Freedom of Information Act requests…"  (Government Executive)
  • Everyday "FOIA heroes" make a strong case for the public's right to know. MuckRock ended Sunshine Week by focusing on five "ordinary citizens whose public records requests have made an impact." (MuckRock)

State & Local

The Massachusetts State Senate Office of Education and Civic Engagement shared some Sunshine Week Updates. 

  • Rochester, NY brought its FOI process into the 21st century. "The city for years has promised automation of the historically paper-heavy process. Now, working with General Code of Gates, the city is ready to launch a new system that will allow people to file requests online, track the process as it gets reviewed, filled, denied or redacted, and get up-to-date time estimates on delivery."(Democrat & Chronicle via NFOIC)
  • Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo argued for good government reforms. In an op-ed the Governor announced a good government legislative reform package that will focus on campaign finance and election reform, bring more transparency to legislative grants, and more. (Providence Journal)
  • New Jersey moves to require tax return transparency from Presidential candidates. "New Jersey's state legislature passed legislation on Thursday in response to Trump's withheld tax returns. The bill, which is now up to Gov. Chris Christie to approve, would require all candidates for president and vice president to release tax returns [at least 5 years worth of returns]…in order to appear on the state ballot."(

Around the world

  • Open Government Partnership steering committee welcomes new leadership. Last week, member governments of the Open Government Partnership chose Canada, Italy, South Africa, and South Korea to lead the OGP steering committee. The selected governments will serve a 3 year term starting on October 1. (Open Government Partnership)
  • New research finds governments restrict opposition by limiting Internet access. "The effect varies from country to country, and is much less pronounced in democratic nations. But the study, published today in Science, suggests that besides censorship, another way national governments prevent opposing groups from organizing online is by denying them Internet access in the first place, says Nils Weidmann, a professor of political science at the University of Konstanz in Germany." (MIT Technology Review)
  • How one Mexican city is using technology to improve trash collection. The city of Xalapa is targeting its notoriously poor system for trash collection by partnering "with the civic tech group Codeando Xalapa to put some cheap GPS devices onto garbage trucks and allow residents to see their exact location on a map just like in Uber or Lyft. Users can customize notifications to be alerted when the garbage truck is approaching the nearest collection point. And they can submit complaints directly to an oversight officer if there are any problems." (David Sasaki)

Ethics in Trumpland

  • President Trump is being sued for potentially hiding personal debts. "A Washington lawyer is suing President Donald Trump for allegedly obscuring the extent of his personal debts on his federal financial disclosure form." (POLITICO)
  • How foreign governments can leverage Trump's business interests. "Trump has taken few steps to distance himself from his organization, and foreign governments could use the President’s business interests as bargaining chips to influence his policymaking." The Atlantic digs deeper in their video series Unpresidented


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