Today in OpenGov: Trump’s trademarks, your life on open data, and more…


In today’s edition, we think about President Trump’s world of trademarks, explore open data’s impact on daily life, look at Seattle’s open data policy, highlight a conference on open parliaments, and more…


American flags flying outside of Trump International Hotel in Washington DC. December 12, 2016.

  • The Government Accountability Office is reviewing Trump’s transition ethics and fundraising. “The federal government’s internal auditor is commencing a review of President Trump’s transition into office, examining potential conflicts of interest, contacts with foreign government and funding sources.” (Government Executive) Potentially of interest to the GAO, the @Transition2017 Twitter account is no longer searchable or clickable.
  • President Trump’s slate of trademarks around the world raise ethics concerns. “A review of 10 trademark databases show that Mr. Trump’s enterprise, now run by his two adult sons, has 157 trademark applications pending in 36 countries.” A group of constitutional and ethics lawyers are challenging Trump in court, arguing “that the Constitution prohibits the president from accepting any economic benefit, including trademark approvals, from foreign governments.” (New York Times)
  • The risks of privatizing government ethics. Bob Bauer reflected on the risks of moving ethics enforcement away from public bodies in the Trump era: “There is a different way of looking at what may exceptional about the Trump ethics regime…It is more concerned with a change, for the worse, in the institutional safeguards for keeping government service under public ethical controls. The problem could be thought of as a sort of privatization of public ethics.” (More Soft Money Hard Law via Election Law Blog)
  • White House will have answers on visitor logs “very shortly”. Sean Spicer’s statement regarding White House visitor logs In the wake of a lawsuit pushing for their release: “We should have an answer on our policy very shortly.” As Wall Street Journal Reporter Rebecca Ballhaus noted on Twitter, it sounds a lot like his statement on the issue two weeks ago. (Rebecca Ballhaus)

states and cities

  • Seattle’s open data policy balances openness with citizen privacy. Steven Goldsmith, originally writing in a paper on What Works Cities’ Certification Program, digs in to the efforts made by Seattle’s government to balance privacy with the goals of their open data program and how they engaged citizens to ensure success. (Government Technology, Data-Smart City Solutions)
  • Michigan Governor signs new FOI exemption into law. “Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law legislation that will exempt in-progress bids for public contracts from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests last week.” (The Peninsula via NFOIC)


  • Open data’s quiet, but important role in daily life. Open government data helps citizens make decisions about schools, appliances, their morning commute and much more. Unfortunately, the ultimate source of this data is not always recognized, as Sunlight’s Alex Howard explained to CNN, the public may not realize how we already use government data in making decisions every day…” Potential government funding cuts may put much of it at risk.  (CNN)
  • Facebook’s increasing focus on “civic projects”. “When it comes to social media platforms, Facebook is becoming increasingly engaged in the government space…the platform has been undeniably stepping up what it aptly calls its ‘civic products.'”(Government Technology)
  • Brazil’s ongoing corruption problem shows no sign of letting up. “Brazil’s under-fire political establishment was dealt another blow on Tuesday after a Supreme Court judge authorized investigations into leading members of the government as well as dozens of the country’s most senior politicians.” (Bloomberg)

save the dates

  • #TCampAZ is coming up on May 22 in Phoenix. Learn more on Facebook and get your tickets hereThis one-day unconference will bring together the government representatives, developers and journalists to solve problems relating to civic data access. TCamp participants design the agenda, present their ideas and dive into the challenges, success stories and new possibilities during morning and afternoon breakout sessions. It is being hosted by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting with key partners including Sunlight, Galvanize, and the Institute for Digital Progress.
  • April 13th: Ignite Night and Happy Hour at the OpenGov Hub in Washington, DC. “This event will feature a series of several Ignite-style lightning talks (exactly 5 minutes, with 20 slides that auto advance every 15 seconds) about some of the latest exciting projects from OpenGov Hub member organizations, including Open Data Watch, the Natural Resource Governance Institute, Global Integrity, and more!” Register to attend here.
  • April 25th: TICTeC in Florence, Italy. Hosted by mySociety and “Returning for a third year, the Impacts of Civic Technology Conference focuses on the impact that civic technology and digital democracy are having on citizens, decision makers and governments around the world.” Learn more and register to attend here.
  • May 17th and 18th: Reboot Congress 2017 and the Kemp Forum in Washington, DC. “Held in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, Reboot Congress 2017, is an invite-only conversation that will bring together a dynamic mix of problem solvers – civic tech innovators, engineers and designers, elected officials, senior staffers, policy experts, and other stakeholders working to modernize Congress.” Learn more here.
  • May 17th: The 2017 Door Stop Awards in Washington, DC. “Lincoln Network and The OpenGov Foundation are joining forces to present the 2017 Door Stop Awards for Congressional Innovation and Transparency. Awards will be presented on May 17, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at an evening party as part of Reboot Congress.” Do you know a member of Congress or staffer who deserves to be recognized? You can submit a nomination here!
  • May 19th and 20th: Global Legislative Openness Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. “This 2-day event is hosted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, organized by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and Open Parliament Initiative in Ukraine. The event will convene leading legislators, government officials, and civil society representatives to consider how legislative openness can strengthen public trust in representative institutions and build a responsive, 21st century legislature. In addition, the conference will explore how parliaments can best leverage the Open Government Partnership’s new legislative engagement policy to develop and implement legislative openness plans and commitments.” Registration runs through April 13th.
  • June 8th and 9th: Personal Democracy Forum 2017 in New York City. “The annual flagship conference brings together close to 1,000 top technologists, campaigners, hackers, opinion-makers, government officials, journalists, and academics for two days of game-changing talks, workshops, and networking opportunities to celebrate the power and potential of tech to make real change happen.” Learn more about #PDF17 and get your tickets here.
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