In today’s edition, we note Ivanka Trump’s new job title, take a look at France’s open government plans, celebrate new open data legislation, read the 28 counts against Steve Stockman, and more…
A new hope for open data
- The OPEN Government Data Act is back in the House. We’re thrilled that it was reintroduced in a bipartisan manner and hope Congress moves forward with it soon. As we said last year when the Senate passed it, this legislation would codify an expectation into law that the Sunlight Foundation has been advocating for since we were founded a decade ago: Public data created with taxpayer dollars should be available to the public in open, machine-readable forms when doing so does not damage privacy or national security.
- Congress targets U.S. Code for much needed modernization. “Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Dave Brat (R-Va.) have reintroduced the Statutes at Large Modernization Act, a legislation reform bill that would make all federal laws ever passed available and publicly searchable on Congress.gov in an open, non-proprietary data format.” (Federal Computer Week)
- Acting U.S. CIO highlights reliance on legacy systems as a major problem. “As agencies look to free themselves from their dependencies to outdated, legacy systems, acting U.S. CIO Margie Graves wants to make sure the federal government doesn’t find itself in this predicament once again decades down the road.” The government should focus on developing more modular, portable, and flexible systems moving forward. (FedScoop)
Around the world
- A new generation joins anti-corruption protests in Russia. “Not only did young people turn out in large numbers at the demonstrations last weekend, but they’ve also invigorated Navalny’s anti-corruption campaign by challenging educators in classrooms and sharing footage of teachers and administrators trying to indoctrinate students against political activism.” (Global Voices)
- France looks online to build next Open Government Partnership National Action Plan. “On March 15th, France released an online platform to initiate the development of its next national action plan. Open to public administrations, civil society organizations and other stakeholders, this platform will gather contributions in order to build up ambitious and transformative commitments to be endorsed by the next government.” (Open Government Partnership)
- Six key themes for digital democracy. “Last month NESTA published a paper called Digital Democracy: The tools for transforming political engagement.” The report highlighted six key themes including “don’t engage for engagement’s sake; be clear about who you are engaging and why; digital should always complement traditional engagement; digital should not be seen as a cheap and easy fix and use tools that are useful and useable for your users.” (The Democratic Society)
money & politics & ethics & corruption
- Congress votes to roll back Internet privacy rules after heavy telecom lobbying and spending. “The vote to dismantle the rules is seen as one of the more brazen examples of pay-to-play politics in recent memory. It’s a massive win for giant ISPs; especially those like AT&T and Verizon that are pushing hard into the Millennial advertising business.” (DSL Reports) The Verge has a breakdown of Members of Congress who voted for the bill and how much money they have taken from the telecom industry in campaign donations.
- Former Rep. Steve Stockman indicted on 28 charges, accused of misusing up to $1.25 million. “Former Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman was formally indicted Tuesday evening on fraud, conspiracy and money laundering charges, the Justice Department announced.”(Roll Call)
- State Department employee allegedly shared information with China in exchange for gifts. “A veteran State Department employee who held a Top Secret clearance and did three tours in China is facing criminal charges for allegedly covering up tens of thousands of dollars in gifts she and an associate took from Chinese agents.” (POLITICO)
- Ivanka Trump will officially join White House staff after conflict of interest questions. “Ivanka Trump said she will become an official unpaid federal employee after Democratic lawmakers said her previously unspecified role advising her father, President Donald Trump, raised questions about how she’d avoid conflicts of interest.” (Bloomberg)
- Secretary of State brings two pool reporters on trip to Europe… “Two pool reporters are traveling with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his current trip to Turkey and Belgium after Tillerson blocked pool reporters from his first trip to Asia earlier this month.” Reporters from other outlets that want to cover the trip will fly commercial. (POLITICO)
- …while State Department briefing room goes dark amid spokesperson search. “For at least two weeks, officials at the State Department will not hold a public briefing, according to officials with the department. After that, it is unclear if briefings will resume immediately and what form they will take. In the meantime, the State Department have been briefing reporters on background only, which means officials cannot be quoted by name in any news stories.” Sunlight’s Deputy Director Alex Howard weighed in, calling the lack of briefings “an unfortunate continuation of what we’ve seen from the very top of this administration.”(ABC News)
- Air Force nominee’s contracting work under fire from ethics watchdogs. “Independent ethics watchdogs urged members of Congress this week to probe why President Trump’s Air Force secretary nominee, former Rep. Heather Wilson, was paid by nuclear weapon contractors to do consulting work for which she refused to provide a detailed accounting.” (Center for Public Integrity)
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