In Today's edition, we check out Anchorage, Alaska's new website, learn about a bump in government information requests at Twitter, keep up on the latest from President Trump's Washington, spend some time with the House Oversight Committee, and more…
States and cities
- The City of Anchorage, Alaska's new open data website is "changing the way city departments view data & its role in governance." The data portal is part of a larger effort by the city to embrace technology and innovation. The city has also hired a chief innovation officer, worked with Sunlight and the What Works Cities initiative on their open data policy, and secured help from Code for America. (Government Technology)
- Will the Sunshine State revise its constitution in the Sunlight? A 37 member commission has been put together to propose changes to Florida's state constitution. It's draft rules are raising concerns among open government advocates. "Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, is asking the the Constitution Revision Commission to amend its proposed rules to bring the commission into line with existing law regarding open meetings and public records." (Bradenton Herald via NFOIC)
- The future is unclear for We The People petition site. "Want the White House to tell you whether or not it’s pardoning a whistleblower? Or take a position on modifying the technology you own? Or explain why America can’t build a Death Star? For the past six years, you could do all these things through We the People, an imperfect but valuable petition system that gave ordinary people a direct line to the president. But we’re over two months into the Trump administration, and it’s not clear whether the system is still active, or what its future holds." (The Verge)
- Manafort may have made millions working on plan that would "greatly benefit the Putin government". Documents revealed yesterday indicate that Paul Manafort, who served as President Trump's campaign manager last summer, "proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin's government…" and eventually signed a contract worth $10 million per year to work with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska from 2006 until at least 2009. The disclosures — the latest in a stream related to Manafort's dealings in Russia and Eastern Europe — "come as Trump campaign advisers are the subject of an FBI probe and two congressional investigations, and they appear to guarantee that Manafort will be sought as a key witness in upcoming hearings." (Associated Press)
- Mike Flynn didn't sign ethics pledge during brief White House Tenure. The pledge imposes a five year ban on federal appointees lobbying former colleagues and a lifetime ban on lobbying on behalf of foreign governments. This news "comes as the White House fields questions over mechanisms for enforcing the pledge, raising questions about the processes in place for ensuring compliance with the president’s own ethics rules." (Daily Beast)
- NOAA's new chief data officer has a collaborative approach to open data. Despite potential budget cuts at the agency Ed Kearns is optimistic about NOAA's "very strong data culture" and has "plans to focus on working with other federal agencies and the private sector on making sure NOAA data is useful." (Nextgov)
Elsewhere in Washington
- House Oversight Committee tackles transparency bills. This morning the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing entitled "Legislative Proposals for Fostering Transparency." (House Oversight) Hudson Hollister of the Data Coalition will be on hand to discuss the OPEN Government Data Act, legislation that Sunlight strongly supports.
- Lawmakers express bipartisan concern about FBI's facial recognition programs. "The FBI has expanded its access to photo databases and facial recognition technology to support its investigations. Lawmakers, however, have voiced a deep mistrust in the bureau's ability to protect those images of millions of American citizens and properly follow regulations relating to transparency." (Federal Computer Week)
- More agencies than expected may fail to meet email records management goals. "Early self-reporting suggests the National Archives and Records Administration overestimated how many agencies would hit a governmentwide 2016 email management goal." (Federal Computer Week)
Around the World
- Governments requesting more information than ever from Twitter, but growth rate slows. "Twitter saw a 7 percent global increase in government information requests during the last half of 2016, a new company transparency report revealed on Tuesday." A new category revealed that governments target journalists 88 times during the covered period. (The Hill)
- Open Government Partnership must focus on delivering real public service benefits to citizens. "One of the central themes of the Paris Summit was the need for OGP and open government to deliver real benefits to the lives of citizens. Over the next five years, OGP’s success will not be measured by the number of new countries or commitments, but by the benefits it brings to people and communities." (Open Government Partnership)
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