Today in OpenGov: Chicago’s new data portal, a sale on congressional staff, and more…


In today’s edition, we explore Chicago’s upgraded data portal, explain how donors get access to top congressional staff, talk Trump with WNYC, share some tools to help with the upcoming election in the UK, and more…

states and cities

  • Chicago’s data portal gets user-friendly refresh. “Chicago’s data portal…is one of the oldest and most robust data portals in the United States. Yet while its content has grown by hundreds of datasets during that time, its overall design, features, and accessibility have not seen significant variation in more than five years. That is, until now: last week, the City of Chicago launched a massive revamp of its open data portal, giving its visitors a wholly new and modernized experience.” (Data-Smart City Solutions)
  • Syracuse leverages data to fix aging water infrastructure. After Syracuse, NY mayor Stephanie Miner struggled to get state or federal help to fix her city’s deteriorating water mains she turned to “she turned to big data. To get to the bottom of the problem of catastrophic water main breaks, Syracuse first had to understand what was happening underground and where. Using an algorithm developed by a team at the University of Chicago, the city put reams of information, scattered among various departments, to work.” (POLITICO)
  • State and local governments try to ease Immigrant fears that federal officials will use local data to target them. Many states and localities have programs aimed at helping immigrants that “have reviewed and perhaps retained millions of documents with personal information about the applicants, such as their names, addresses and foreign identification numbers.” Immigrants are increasingly fearful that this data can be used against them. “To try to ease the fear, lawmakers in states such as Hawaii, Massachusetts and Vermont have pushed various measures to prevent state and local resources from being used to enforce federal immigration law.” (Government Technology)
  • Lessons learned from Cincinnati’s data-driven efforts. Cincinnati, Ohio city manager Harry Black released a retrospective paper after three years building a data-driven governance program. The paper explores “the methodologies behind the efforts and just what they have meant to Cincinnati government.” (Government Technology)

washington watch

  • Access to congressional staff advertised for big donors. “Documents obtained by The Intercept and the Center for Media and Democracy show that the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee are both telling donors that in exchange for campaign contributions, they will receive invitations to special events to meet with congressional staff including chiefs of staff, leadership staffers, and committee staffers.” The behavior isn’t limited to the Republican party, the article highlights several Democratic examples are highlighted as well. (The Intercept)
  • Alleged Menendez co-conspirator nears the end of his fraud trial. “If Melgen is convicted on some or all of the 76 fraud-related felony counts he faces, he could feel extreme pressure to testify against Menendez (D-N.J.) in the corruption case in Newark where both men are named as defendants.” (POLITICO)
  • How does USAFacts fit in with other government spending efforts? Among others “…a law with an impending deadline may make their work easier for future reports — at least in tracking federal spending. The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act — signed into law in 2014 — requires all federal agencies begin reporting their spending data in a standardized format starting in May.” (FedScoop)
  • Interested in filing a FOIA request? Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’s got you covered. We think Ashley’s “Totally Basic FOIA Tutorial” is a great gateway to government transparency. Check out FOIA.Wiki to learn more about the law and think about our friends at MuckRock for your filing needs.  Watch the video below or check it out on YouTube


  • Sunlight talks Trump and transparency with WNYC. Sunlight’s Alex Howard joined WNYC’s “On The Media” to talk about transparency and accountability in the White House. You can listen online or download the podcast here.
  • Ivanka Trump to skip book tour, donate royalties. “Ivanka Trump, who now serves as an official government adviser to her father, complete with a security clearance and an office in the West Wing, announced Thursday she won’t do any publicity for her book – no tour, no book signings, and none of the television interviews that help boost a book to the bestseller lists.” She will also donate her advance and any royalties from the book to charity. (POLITICO)
  • New administration brings K Street boom. “Washington’s top-grossing lobbying firms are expecting a banner year, with Republicans in control of the federal government for the first time in a decade.” After an election year slow down many K Street firms experienced a major bounce back in the first quarter of 2017. (The Hill)

around the world

  • Useful tools as the UK gears up for a June general election. mySociety highlights their range of offerings that might be “useful during the campaign whether you just want to find out the voting record of your current MP or if you’re planning on building a website or app to cover the campaign.” (mySociety)
  • OGP subnational program helps connect ideas around the globe. “One of the positive outcomes of the OGP Subnational Pilot Program is that it creates relationships among like-minded cities and governments. These relationships result in exchanges of knowledge, practices, and experiences. Buenos Aires Elige(link is external) (BA Elige), a platform through which citizens can bring their ideas, discuss them and make them compete for the support of fellow-citizens, is an initiative that exemplifies the results of such collaboration.” (Open Government Partnership)
  • Major donors present new strategy on transparency. “The Transparency & Accountability Initiative [a donor collaboration formed in 2010] has unveiled a new strategy emphasizing the use of data for accountability, tax governance and civic space.” (

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 26th, 6:00 PM: “Participatory Organizing: From Co-Op to Network to Mass Movement” in Washington, DC. The OpenGov Hub is hosting a co-created workshop on collaborative culture and non-hierarchical organizing. We combine storytelling and participation to learn together about democratic, bottom-up organizing at different scales: from co-ops, to networks, cities and nations. We’ll offer some practices and tools that have helped us, and discover the intelligence in the room too. Learn more and register 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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