Today in OpenGov: Congress loves data, Investigating Trump’s ethics waivers, and more…


In today's edition, we investigate a threat to the Sunshine State's sunshine law, explore the wave of data focused legislation being introduced in Congress, try to find the waivers that President Trump has granted to his ethics pledge, and more…

washington watch

  • Exploring data-focused legislation introduced in the 115th Congress. Deirdra Funcheon took a look at legislation being introduced that touches on data collection or dissemination. At least 403 bills introduced so far this year include the word data, covering a wide range of topics. Some are innocuous, others are potentially controversial, and Sunlight officially supports a few of them. Read the whole story on the Sunlight blog
  • Office of Government Ethics to review every ethics waiver issued by Trump administration. "The top federal ethics agency is conducting a review that will examine every waiver of conflict of interest rules President Donald Trump’s appointees have received." (Bloomberg) We told Congress in February that President Trump’s executive order on ethics was a step *backwards* for open government, as it "removed a mechanism requiring ethics waivers to be publicly disclosed and published online and allowed former executive branch officials to lobby the agencies they served in." Read more on our Facebook page
  • FOIA is slightly slower, 100 days into the Trump adminsitration.  "Since President Donald Trump took office, slow Freedom of Information Act processes have become even slower — although it is tough to determine what, if anything, that means." (MuckRock)
  • Lewandowski, former Trump campaign manager, reportedly pitching promises of face time with the President.  "A firm co-founded by Donald Trump’s original campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appears to have been pitching clients around the world by offering not only policy and political advice, but also face time with President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and senior members of their administration, according to documents and interviews." (POLITICO)
  • Trump presidency doesn't always equal good news for Trump Organization. "Of course, these troubles—some of which may be more symbolic than they are impactful on Trump’s bottom line—must be balanced against the enormous benefits that Trump’s presidency affords for his companies, which could easily outweigh any turbulence the organization is currently facing." (The Atlantic)
  • EPA removes climate science page, data from website. "The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday evening that its website would be 'undergoing changes' to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information." (The Washington Post)

states and cities

  • Florida bill threatens the Sunshine State's celebrated Sunshine Law. "The proposed law (HB 843) from Naples Republican Rep. Byron Donalds would exempt from open meetings requirements any gatherings between two members of a local, county or state agency board or commission. Those officials wouldn’t have to give any notice about their meeting and they wouldn’t have to keep any records of what they discuss." (Government Technology)
  • Potential upgrades to Oregon's public records law include Sunshine Committee, records advocate, clear response timelines. "One part of the three-pronged effort to overhaul Oregon's public records law changed dramatically Tuesday, with Secretary of State Dennis Richardson proposing the creation of a Sunshine Committee under his office to review exemptions to the state's disclosure law. Thus far, Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum have been pushing their own bills – to create a public records advocate and to establish time frames for responding to requests, respectively." (Oregon Live)
  • Missouri Governor to pay ethics fine over unreported use of nonprofit donor list. "Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens has agreed to pay a penalty to the state Ethics Commission for failing to report that his gubernatorial campaign got a donor list from a charity he had founded to help military veterans." (Associated Press)

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.
  • May 6th: Sustainable Development Goals Data Archive-a-thon in Washington, DC. The SDG Data Archive-a-thon is an opportunity for programmers, archivists, scientists and volunteers of all kinds to help preserve publicly accessible federal data resources in the public interest. The goal of this event is to archive the datasets used to report on the SDG indicators and to ensure they remain accessible to the public online. This event is hosted by the Center for Open Data Enterprise. Learn more and register to participate 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." Learn more 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.
  • June 27th: Legislative Data and Transparency Conference in Washington, DC. "The Legislative Data and Transparency Conference 2017 (#LDTC17), hosted by the Committee on House Administration, will take place on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium. The #LDTC17 brings individuals from Legislative Branch agencies together with data users and transparency advocates to foster a conversation about the use of legislative data – addressing how agencies use technology well and how they can use it better in the future." Learn more here
  • June 29th: DATA Act Summit 2017 in Washington, DC. "The fourth annual DATA Act Summit, hosted by the Data Coalition and Booz Allen Hamilton, will bring together supporters of the open data transformation from across government and the private sector." Learn more and get your tickets here
  • September 11th and 12th: TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. "TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts." The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. Learn more, submit a session proposal, and register to attend here


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