Today in OpenGov: Open data in Riverside, transparency in D.C., Sunlight on the radio, and more


In today's edition, we talk transparency with Maine Sen. Angus King, highlight Riverside's open data efforts, see how Trump's new innovation office compares with previous efforts along the same lines, and more…

States and cities

  • Sunlight's Katya Abazajian went to Riverside, CA to explore how the What Works Cities city is connecting communities through open data. Whether through apps, passing open data policies, or new channels for collaboration on systemic issues like homelessness, Riverside — which recently passed an open data proclamation — is taking meaningful steps to connect its people to their own data. (Sunlight Foundation)
  • A predictive policing start up released its algorithm and data for analysis and criticism. "CivicScape has released its algorithm and data online for experts to scour" in an effort to avoid  known problems with predictive policing software including a tendency to "disproportionately target minorities." (Quartz)
  • Facebook looks to boost civic engagement with new tools. "The social media company, Co-op Satellite & Radio Media Tours on Monday announced that it is rolling out three new products" to help users identify and connect with their representatives as well as remember to vote in local elections. (The Hill)
  • New transparency bill introduced in Washington, DC City Council. David Grosso, a member of the Washington, D.C. City Council introduced a bill "on Tuesday to foster more open and responsive government by strengthening existing open government laws." The legislation tackles topics like freedom of information, open meetings, and open data. (David Grosso)

Money & Politics & ethics & corruption


  • Sunlight's John Wonderlich discusses transparency with Maine Sen. Angus King. John joined Maine's Independent Senator on WGAN's Inside Maine podcast to discuss "dark money," campaign finance, and transparency. (WGAN)
  • Where are the Executive Office of the President's financial disclosures? Last week, the "Center for Responsive Politics [released] new personal financial data for members of the Trump administration. Collected from reports that executive branch nominees are required to submit to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), the data gives the public an inside look at the financial interests of what is likely the wealthiest cabinet in modern history." However, as of Sunday they were still waiting on "legally required financial disclosures from members of the Executive Office of the President." (
  • Which official bodies oversee President Trump's ethics? Check out this handy list. "Of course, the media, whistleblowers and the courts are key elements of the accountability ecosystem. A number of agencies or government bodies also have a hand in holding presidents and appointees accountable on ethics and conflicts of interest. But a few play an outsize role — though only some of them have direct purview over the activities of the president." This list highlights congressional, executive branch, and state bodies with power. (NPR)
  • Deutsche Bank in tricky situation over Trump debt. President Trump owes Deutsche Bank around $300 million. This, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a problem, but the bank is running into hurdles as they attempt to restructure some of that debt. "The issue is a personal guarantee Trump gave Deutsche Bank when the debt was negotiated from 2012 to 2015…Since Trump won the presidential election in November, bankers have tried to eliminate the awkward prospect of someday collecting from a sitting U.S. president. If the bank removes Trump’s personal guarantee, critics might accuse it of trying to curry favor with the president. If the interest rate rises as part of any restructuring, it could also risk the scorn of the Trump business organization." (Bloomberg)
  • Billionaire Icahn's dual roles as regulatory adviser and energy investor raise ethics flags. "Since Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor, was named by President Trump as a special adviser on regulatory matters, he has been busy working behind the scenes to try to revamp an obscure Environmental Protection Agency rule that governs the way corn-based ethanol is mixed into gasoline nationwide." The problem? Icahn is a majority investor in an oil refiner that stands to save hundreds of millions of dollars from the rule change. (New York Times

Data and innovation in trumpland

  • Trump's shifting stance on official data is cause for real concern. "The danger is that a President who disparages the data might convince his followers that bad economic news is political propaganda, and offer numbers that have no statistical rigor behind them." (The New Yorker)
  • Trump innovation office adds to uncertainty for USDS, 18F. "Right now, it’s unclear what the new group will mean for the federal tech and innovation groups created in the Obama administration, including the White House’s U.S. Digital Service—itself described as a tech troubleshooting SWAT team—and 18F, the digital consultancy housed within the General Services Administration." Jared Kushner, who will lead Trump's new team, has previously expressed support for both USDS and 18F. (Nextgov)
  • Insiders encouraged by innovation office's proximity to Oval Office, potential focus on IT. Numerous federal IT insiders from both parties expressed optimism that the new White House Office of American Innovation could be well positioned to succeed. (Federal Computer Week)
  • Reforming government is more complicated than it appears. "Many presidents have tried to reform government. At best, they have enjoyed only partial success, typically falling far short of highly ambitious goals. The road to changing government, as Trump’s predecessors learned, is filled with political landmines, but there are some guideposts the new administration should follow if it hopes to make headway." (Government Executive)


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