In today's edition, we reflect on the What Works Cities Summit, learn how to FOIA the feds, try to keep up with Paul Manafort's deals, celebrate Australia's Open Government Partnership plan, and more…
states and cities
- How American cities can help close the national trust deficit. Sunlight's Katya Abazajian reflected on the What Works Cities Summit, focusing on three key takeaways: Cities play a role in national politics, local champions matter, and it is time to move beyond access to information. (Sunlight Foundation)
- Mapping speed camera revenue in D.C. Speed cameras are a big source of revenue for the District of Columbia, accounting for roughly $190 million in fines in 2016. The Washington Business Journal mapped all of D.C.'s speed cameras and their related revenue.
- Hawaii launches geospatial data portal. "The state Office of Planning’s Hawaii Statewide Geographic Information System (GIS) Program launched a new Geospatial Data Portal (geoportal.hawaii.gov), which provides streamlined access to hundreds of data layers, topographic maps, imagery, and developer features." (Hawaii.gov via Ryan Ozawa)
- Opposing public records search fees in Indiana. The Indiana Coalition for Open Government is urging the state's governor to veto a bill that would allow agencies to charge search fees for public records request. We agree that Governor Eric Holcomb should stand up for open government and veto the bill.
- Firms tied to Paul Manafort register as foreign lobbyists. "Two lobbying firms said Wednesday they were registering as agents of a foreign government in connection with a lobbying effort that President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman helped organize five years ago for the then-Ukrainian government, but never registered with the Justice Department." (Wall Street Journal)
- Manafort borrowed millions from Trump businesses as he left Trump campaign. On the day that he stepped down as President Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort formed a shell company and borrowed $13 million from businesses with ties to Trump. (New York Times)
- Nunes recusal shows value of ethics institutions… "The larger lesson of the Nunes episode is that some of the creaky machinery of ethics checks and balances in Washington is still capable of functioning." (The New Yorker)
- …But classified information may prevent disclosure of investigation into his actions. "The outcome of an ethics investigation surrounding House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’ disclosure of classified information might never see the light of day, depending on how it’s handled…The results of that inquiry by the House Ethics Committee may not be revealed for months — or at all — because it centers around disclosure of classified information, ethics experts say." (Roll Call)
elsewhere in washington
- Foreign lobbying disclosure needs a technology refresh. "But the technology the government uses to catalogue and store the data is so outdated that it is next to impossible to quickly find the answers to many basic questions, according to nonprofit groups familiar with the database." (Roll Call) We've long called for the nation's online foreign lobbying database to be upgraded. The Justice Department hasn't even fixed the broken links we highlighted in 2014. The public deserves better access to this information in 2017.
- A free course on the federal FOIA. If you're wondering how the Freedom of Information Act applies to federal agencies and how you can use it, Poynter has published a useful primer and free course. (Poynter)
- The Department of Veterans Affairs launches two new tech tools. "Veterans seeking medical care will have increased insight into their wait times as well as data on the quality of care at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, the department announced Wednesday." (FedScoop)
around the world
- Australia's ambitious open gov action plan. We were glad to see Australia join the Open Government Partnership and propose a strong first action plan. (ZDNet) We hope the country's government will now meet its commitment to public engagement and lead the world in informing Australians about the plan and giving them a voice in government using all of the available platforms available today, from the World Wide Web to social media to text messaging to radio, print and TV. Read our full statement on Facebook.
- New tool promotes transparency in German education. "Parents, students, teachers, politicians, and civil society organisations benefit from enhanced information on the German school system that is provided on Jedeschule.de. School of Data Germany and BildungsCent eV. campaigned for more transparency in the educational sector and promoted dialogues between stakeholders in educational policy." (Open Knowledge)
- App helps navigate Barcelona, offline. The city of Barcelona, Spain published an "offline first progressive web app" to provide information on featured spots around the city. "Offline first progressive web apps are web apps designed to be capable of being used offline as from the first time that the user consults them. The first time the app is accessed, it downloads locally the data that is needed for it to function offline. Successive visits to the app upload information from the local copy where there is no available internet connection." (Metodian)
save the dates
- #TCampAZ is coming up on May 22 in Phoenix. Learn more on Facebook and get your tickets here! This 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.
- Tonight! 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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