Today in OpenGov: An HHS gag order, a quantitative measure for open government, and more…


In today's edition, Congress keeps up its interest in the DATA Act, James Comey gets an invitation from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mexico explores a quantitative open government measuring system, and more…

washington watch

  • Agency engagement, agile approach helped boost DATA Act implementation. "In part one of a special report looking at the implementation and impact of the DATA Act, Christina Ho, Treasury’s deputy assistant secretary for accounting policy and financial transparency, said during an exclusive interview with Federal News Radio that she credited her small team, and agency’s engagement, to the success of the rollout." (Federal News Radio)
  • House Oversight staying on top of DATA Act implementation issues. "The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wants to know how the Treasury Department is tackling problems that crop up during implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014." The Committee recently sent a letter asking how the Treasury Department plans to address recommendations for improvement issued by the GAO. (FedScoop)
  • Agencies turn to data analytics and machine learning to fight fraud, waste, and abuse. "Today, government agencies increasingly turn to data analytics as a crime-fighting tool. In the process, they scour a more varied and greater amount of data — structured and unstructured, internal and external — for insight into identifying fraud, waste and abuse." (FedTech Magazine)
  • "Gag order" on communications between HHS employees and Congress criticized by watchdogs and key committee chairmen. "The May 4 letter to Secretary Tom Price from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, called a recent departmentwide memo sent on Price’s behalf 'potentially illegal and unconstitutional.'" The memo prevents any communication with congress without prior authorization from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation. (Government Executive) The Project on Government Oversight weighed in, explaining that the memo violates the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. 
  • Interested in congressional efforts to preserve federal data? You can now weigh in on the Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017 on 


Image Credit: Alex Howard via Twitter
  • Comey invited to testify before closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Recently ousted FBI director James Comey has been invited to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next Tuesday, ranking member Sen. Mark Warner's (D-Va.) office confirmed Wednesday." (The Hill) Meanwhile, Chaffetz asks DOJ IG to probe Comey's firing. "Rep. Jason Chaffetz said Wednesday he's asked a Department of Justice inspector general looking into the FBI's behavior in the run-up to the 2016 election to expand its scope and include the firing of FBI Director James Comey." (POLITICO)
  • Trump uses loophole to sidestep scrutiny for new Wall Street regulator. "The Trump administration used a highly unusual personnel move to skirt Senate confirmation and standard ethics requirements when it installed a financial services lawyer atop a powerful banking regulator. Keith Noreika’s transition from representing banks to overseeing them came courtesy of a quick two-step. He was made “first deputy” at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a designation that ensured he would ascend to the top job once it opened. Then the administration ousted Thomas Curry, an OCC head picked by Barack Obama who had imposed tough rules and record fines on lenders. Just like that, Noreika became acting comptroller." (Bloomberg)
  • Charles Schwab gave $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee, now his granddaughter is a "volunteer" in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. "Samantha Schwab, the 21-year-old granddaughter of brokerage billionaire Charles Schwab, has been working in the Trump White House Office of Legislative Affairs….The header on Schwab’s White House email address says 'Volunteer' in parentheses after her name, suggesting she may not be a full-time staffer. She is not an official White House intern." Sunlight's Alex Howard weighed in on the potential conflict of interest "But when someone is given this incredibly valuable experience in secret, because of their family’s political contributions, it erodes the public trust in the entire government". (HuffPost)
  • Speaking of conflicts of interest, we recently updated our spreadsheet tracking the president's conflicts. It now has over 500 entries. 

around the world

  • Celebrating Europe Day with calls for transparency reforms. "On Europe Day, Access Info is calling on the European Union to commit to and implement essential transparency and open government reforms to reverse the growing sense among European citizens that they are distanced from Brussels and that decisions are taken behind closed doors with little or no accountability." (Access Info Europe)
  • A quantitative metric to measure open government at all levels of Mexican administration. "Mexico has carried out open government initiatives both at the federal (since 2011) and local (since 2015) levels. INAI knew that over the next five years, OGP countries’ results would be evaluated, and that Mexico’s progress in opening its government needed a baseline and indicators to identify how Mexican public agencies were adopting open government and to find out what could be improved. To answer these questions, INAI asked a group of academics from the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE) to develop a quantitative instrument. We named it the Open Government Metric." (Open Government Partnership)

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 17th: Reboot Congress 2017 and the 2017 Doorstop Awards 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 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." Check out the panels and 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!