Today in OpenGov: A California budget data upgrade, big donors boosting Trump, and more


In today's edition, we look at a potential upgrade to California's budget data, investigate the wealthy donors preparing to boost President Trump, find savings at the FEC, and more…

States and cities

  • California may publish state budgets as downloadable spreadsheets. "A Senate committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would require future state budgets be available in a downloadable spreadsheet format — an effort to bring more public scrutiny to state expenditures." (Government Technology)
  • Driving data innovation in small cities. "As cities like Syracuse have demonstrated, being able to leverage ideas from peers is a key component of driving innovation and adopting data-driven strategies." (Mark Headd)
  • Carl Malamud took on Georgia over access to the state's laws. Ars Technica digs deep into the open-records activist's fight to improve access to Georgia's state code and related annotations. It's a complicated story, worth reading in full, but the story so far doesn't end well. "Now, the case has concluded with US District Judge Richard Story having published an opinion (PDF) that sides with the state of Georgia. The judge disagreed with Malamud's argument that the OCGA can't be copyrighted and also said Malamud's copying of the laws is not fair use."  (Ars Technica)

money & politics & ethics & corruption

  • Wealthy donors are planning a media blitz to boost President Trump. In the wake of "the failed effort to repeal Obamacare a group of wealthy backers is launching a media blitz to pressure Democratic senators to support" the President. (Bloomberg)
  • Gorsuch responds in writing to Citizens United question… and the answer did not impress Rick Hasen at the Election Law Blog. He writes: "Well Sen. Leahy followed up in a written question, and Judge Gorsuch continues to insist on spending limits being possible upon proof of quid pro quo corruption (which I think is essentially foreclosed by both Citizens United and the follow-up American Tradition Partnership)." (Election Law Blog)
  • …while Democrats push for him to help find out who is behind dark money supporting his nomination. "Just in: Senate Dems write Gorsuch calling on him to help find out who donated $10m+ backing his nomination – currently secret" (Ari Melber)
  • The Federal Elections Commission's new website will save $1.2 million annually. The FEC teamed up with 18F to launch the new site, which includes new features and increased scalability. Savings will come from internal systems that will be retired.  (Nextgov)

Elsewhere in washington

  • Thinking of becoming a whistleblower? There's a lot to consider. "We all like to think that given the opportunity to blow the whistle on something illegal or immoral, we would do the right thing. But whistleblowing is rarely, if ever, black and white and often entails significant legal, ethical, financial, and personal challenges." (Government Executive)
  • Intelligence agency hackathon targets food security. "A team of students from the University of Southern California won the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s most recent hackathon in Los Angeles for creating a different approach to facilitating food security in Morocco through a proposed solution that optimizes the transportation of fish. The hackathon is one of many ways the agency is trying to find new approaches to its complex problems — and recruit talent when competing with the fast-paced, high-paying tech industry." (FedScoop)
  • Trump administration to pursue criminal charges against leakers? "Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated Thursday evening that the Trump administration would pursue criminal charges to end alleged leaks from U.S. agencies." (The Hill)
  • Democrats in Congress not getting answers from the Administration. "The lack of response to congressional letters is part of a pattern. Virtually every day, Democrats write the Trump administration demanding answers on a range of issues. And every day they are met with the sounds of silence." (ProPublica)


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