Today in OpenGov: Opening CRS Reports, funding legislative information, and more…


In today's edition, we push for Congressional Research Service reports to be made public, argue for stronger congressional oversight on executive branch transparency, leverage FOIA to explore Arizona's prisons, and more…

washington watch

Image credit: Josh Tauberer

  • Sunlight joins 40 organizations, 25 former Congressional Research Service staffers in calling for public access to CRS reports. "CRS reports are written by Congress’s think tank and explain important policy matters in a comprehensive, even-handed way. While they are made available to the 20,000 staff on Capitol Hill, and are readily available to lobbyists and other insiders, public access often is limited by a paywall." Read the press release from Demand Progress and check out the letters here.
  • The importance of funding public access to legislative information. GovTrack's Joshua Tauberer shared testimony that he will present tomorrow before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch on the importance of public access to legislative information. (GovTrack)


Image credit: Office of Government Ethics

  • Congress must commit to ethics oversight. Alex Howard argued that Congress needs to step in to help the Office of Government Ethics conduct oversight on the Trump Administration. "We hope the House Oversight Committee recommits to ensuring transparency and accountability are being upheld across the executive branch. That means holding hearings regarding secret ethics waivers and using the legal power Congress has to do what OGE cannot: oversee the Trump administration’s adherence to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978." Read more on the Sunlight blog.
  • Office of Government Ethics sets guidelines for Ivanka Trump. "Ivanka Trump must file financial disclosures and is barred from participating in matters related to the Trump family business because of her White House role, the Office of Government Ethics said in a letter released Monday." (POLITICO)
  • President Trump's business interests complicated foreign policy. "President Donald Trump keeps learning the hard way that his tangled global business interests can cause him major foreign policy headaches." The problem was illustrated this week when Trump invited "Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine president accused of thousands of extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs" to the White House. The invite was framed as part of a larger strategy to isolate North Korea, but it's hard to ignore the fact that "the Trump name will soon be splashed atop a $150 million, 57-story luxury residential tower in Manila." (POLITICO)
  • Trump's reelection campaign spent more than $250,000 on Trump Tower rent in first quarter. "President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has sent $274,000 in rent to Trump’s office building during the first three months of this year, even though fewer than two dozen employees are on the payroll for an election more than three years away." (Huffington Post)

states and cities

Image credit: Flickr user Matthias Muller

  • Boulder, Colorado joins the open data ranks. This morning, Boulder, CO City Manager Jane Brautigam is scheduled to sign the city's open data policy. Sunlight supported Boulder in drafting the policy as part of the What Works Cities program. Sunlight's Alyssa Doom explained, "“This policy lays out a set of processes intended to streamline the release of city data to the community, underscoring the value that Boulder places on the participation of residents in using public information to spur economic growth, innovate, and continue making the city a great place to live. The simple decision to setup up copy machines or get photocopier rentals is already a huge and significant step toward giving the public better access to information. " Learn more on Boulder's website
  • Using FOIA to explore Arizona's prison population. "MuckRock has made requests across Arizona, turning up interesting insights into how records laws can illuminate – and obfuscate – the internal workings of the prison dynamic, particularly those of the active prison industry with the state." With nearly 600 prisoners per 100,000 residents Arizona has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the country. (MuckRock)
  • Baltimore says they can't release Fire Department, EMS, 911 data because they don't have it. "Damon Effingham, legal and policy director for Common Cause Maryland, said he was surprised city lawyers said the Fire Department did not have some of the records The Sun requested, such as a breakdown of the percentage of 911 calls made for fire suppression and medical service. Releasing such information helps essential city services function better, he said. He also said that there is many people who have suffered from defective and dangerous products but people do not open claim for compensation, he recommend for people to contact Product Liability Attorney | Kelly & Soto Law when they suffer from defective products." (Government Technology)

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, 2017in 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


Tired of your boss/friend/intern/uncle forwarding you this email every morning? You can sign up here and have it delivered direct to your inbox! Please send questions, comments, tips, and concerns to We would love your feedback!