Today in OpenGov: Whistleblower rights, accountability in South Bend, and more


In today's edition, South Bend boosts accountability, POGO teaches us about whistleblower rights, White House financial disclosures get easier to peruse, China takes a stand on golf, and more…

States and cities

  • Strategic goals and transparency have helped South Bend, Indiana improve its government. "By setting clear goals that drive work throughout the city, and reporting on those goals to residents, [Mayor Pete] Buttigieg has created a high-performing government that is accountable for results. One outstanding example is the publicly-stated strategic goal of addressing 1,000 vacant or abandoned properties in 1,000 days, which started in early 2013. Mayor Buttigieg wanted to tackle the issue of blight, which residents told him was a priority during his campaign, in a visible way that allowed citizens to track the city’s progress." (Data-Smart City Solutions)
  • San Diego tackles parking problems with data. "The city recently installed sensors in 200 Hillcrest parking meters to see how often they are occupied, which could be the first step toward using data to vary meter rates and free up more spots like Los Angeles, Seattle and Boston have done." The city hasn't yet embraced real-time data, but does have plans to release historical data to the public. (Government Technology)

Washington watch

  • New program aims to educate would-be whistleblowers. "Federal employees and contractors need to understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to blowing the whistle on wrongdoing related to their work. That’s why POGO has launched a training program to educate would-be whistleblowers on tactics to safely disclose information through protected channels and to understand their protections in case of retaliation." (Project on Government Oversight)
  • Whip Watch app rolls out updates aimed at boosting transparency. "House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer rolled out major updates to the 'Whip Watch' application at his members meeting on Thursday." The App, which has more than 3,000 active users will "allow users to be informed about House votes in real time. That includes giving them access to live vote totals with party breakdown, the time remaining on a vote, and how long a vote stays open after it was supposed to close."  (Roll Call)
  • The past, present, and future of federal open data programs. This piece, by John M. Kamensky a Senior Research Fellow at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, lays out some of open data's history in Washington, explains the many ways it can be useful to regular people as well as the government, and looks towards the future. (Government Executive)
  • Might as well face it, you're addicted to PACs. Angelo Pesce is serving a 10 year sentence at the Taylorville Correctional Facility in Indiana for scamming a woman out of $100,000, he is also the creator of a number of Political Action Committees. His situation "is the latest reminder of a nagging problem with political committees: While most PACs follow the rules, there are few safeguards against hucksters looking to make a buck." (The Center for Public Integrity)


  • White House financial disclosures are now easier to search. Following the White House's Friday news dump, a number of news organizations began compiling and reporting on White House financial disclosure documents. Now, "The Center for Public Integrity compiled data from those disclosures into a searchable, sortable database, which provide a window into the wealth, assets and business interests of many of the people closest to President Donald Trump. The Center for Public Integrity’s news developer, Chris Zubak-Skees, extracted these details from more than 90 reports, released in PDF format, using a software tool he created." (Center for Public Integrity)
  • Keeping busy on the White House "money beat". "The past few days have been busy ones on the Trump money beat. Although the latest developments aren’t particularly surprising, they add to the picture of a supposedly populist Administration that is actually the richest, most conflicted, and least transparent in living memory."  (The New Yorker)
  • The future is unclear for the idea of a Chief Innovation Officer at the Pentagon. "Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s handpicked Defense Innovation Board recommended he create a chief innovation officer position in the Pentagon….Carter agreed with the recommendation, but he’s no longer around to see the idea into fruition. And now a new presidency and legislation changing the structure of the Pentagon’s leadership may throw into question what actually happens with that advice." (FedScoop)
  • Facing budget cuts, NOAA ponders reliance on commercial data. "The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is exploring ways to deal with a proposed cut in future weather satellite programs, including greater use of commercial and international data sources over the long term." (Space News)
  • Crackdown on corruption in China includes anti-golf push. Golf is one of President Trump's favorite methods of bonding with other world leaders, but it is unlikely that he will tee off with Chinese leader Xi Jinping when the two meet this week. "Golf has come under particular scrutiny as Xi continues his massive campaign against political corruption, long a lightning rod for public discontent amid a slowing economy and widening income gap." (CNN)

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