Today in OpenGov: Hosting open data users, fighting procurement fraud, and more


In today's edition, we explore the power of data engagement, fight procurement fraud, share a survey from Singapore, and more…

states and cities


  • Bringing open data users together can help governments and citizens. Sunlight's Alyssa Doom tells the story of Bob Gradeck, who runs a regional data center in western Pennsylvania. Gradeck "began hosting a series of Data User Group Meetings, spearheading a new approach to engaging the residents of Allegheny County and beyond. Each of these meetings was focused on a particular type of data released online, from health to transportation." They have brought data users together and provided important insight for Gradeck's team. (Sunlight Foundation)
  • An analytics engagement success story from New Orleans. "The City of New Orleans’ Office of Performance and Accountability (OPA), the city’s home for data-driven improvements, has had notable successes in using analytics to reduce fire risk and address blight. These programs originated through OPA’s performance management work and with ad-hoc requests from departments. As the city’s data capacity matured and OPA completed more successful projects, director Oliver Wise sought systematic ways that the OPA team could better engage with other city departments at different levels of data literacy." (Data-Smart City Solutions)

washington watch


  • What happened to @Transition2017 social media accounts? "Given the ongoing issues with open government in the first 100 days Trump administration, what happened with transparency and accountability in the presidential transition may have faded from public memory. Unfortunately, it appears that someone in the transition decided to erase some of that history from the public record." The Twitter and Facebook accounts that were associated with Donald Trump's presidential transition appear to have been deleted with no public warning or obvious evidence of archiving. (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Fighting procurement fraud with analytics, communication. "Data analytics is a powerful tool to help identify possible procurement fraud, but it is only the first step in mitigating the problem. Once an indicator of fraud is identified, the good news is that you are well ahead of those taking an ostrich approach. The bad news is that just because you found an indicator doesn't mean you've stopped fraud or lessened the overall risk of it." (Governing)
  • New bills threaten access to federal data on affordable housing, spark broader concern. "Two bills pending in Congress, S.103 and H.R. 482have sparked a flurry of activity from librarians, scientists, students, archivists, programmers and technologists who fear that data previously available from the federal government might be lost…Regardless of whether these specific bills pass, they raise important questions about the politicization of data and its effects across policy areas, beginning with fair housing." (Government Technology)
  • Bureau of Prisons looking for software to help it deal with prisoner data. "The Federal Bureau of Prisons is looking for information on a commercial, off-the-shelf solution that could help it aggregate and interpret 'data relating to inmate reintegration into the community.'" (FedScoop)
  • Microsoft's transparency report shows increase in government information requests. "Microsoft published its biannual transparency report on Thursday, revealing its first National Security Letter from the FBI." The report also showed "the number of U.S. foreign intelligence surveillance requests it received doubled from the second half of 2015 to the first half of 2016." (The Hill)
  • President Trump's conflicts of interest hurt international credibility. "Jessica Tillipman, a dean at the George Washington University Law School and an expert on government ethics and compliance, was recently giving an anti-corruption training to a roomful of visiting government officials from Latin America when something odd happened. As she described measures the United States has in place to guard against conflicts of interest, she heard snickering." (Mother Jones)

around the world

  • Are you an open data user? Consider this 5 minute survey. Singapore is teaming up with the Economist Intelligence Unit to compare open data initiatives across 10 countries and explore data use. In an email, they shared their survey, targeted at "open data users" that sets out to answer questions like "are people using this data? For what purpose? And what more could governments be doing to encourage its use?" Interested? Participate here
  • Reflections on the Pan-African Conference on FOIA. "The Pan-Africa Conference on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information was hosted in Kampala, Uganda…25 and 26 March 2017. The conference, arranged by the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), of which SAHA is a member, was supported by both the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU). A delegation from the EU was in attendance at and participated in conference proceedings." This post wraps up some of the key points of the conference. (
  • Turkish democracy at risk. An upcoming referendum in Turkey could hand unprecedented power to the office of president, dealing a significant blow against democracy in the country. "A win for '[President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] would diminish the role of parliament, dissolve the office of the prime minister, and increase legislative, judicial, and executive powers under the presidency, endowing Erdogan with unparalleled dominance over Turkish politics." (The Atlantic)

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 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." Learn more here. 
  • 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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