Today in OpenGov: Tempe opens by default, Comey wrote a memo, and more…


In today's edition, we share some good open data news from Tempe, James Comey's notes from his meetings with Trump come out, we agree that Brexit talks must be transparent, Alex Howard articulates the need for civics education, and more…

states and cities

  • Tempe, AZ goes open by default, asks for feedback. In a guest post on Sunlight's blog, Stephanie Deitrick, manager of Tempe, Arizona's Open Data Program and the Enterprise GIS, Data and Analytics group, talks about the city's work to improve public access to information. She also asked for feedback on the policy from local residents and individuals with expertise. We urge you to read the policy and share your thoughts here!
  • Lawmakers in Maine consider data privacy legislation. "Some state lawmakers want to pass a new law to keep Mainers’ internet browsing data private in response to a federal rule change allowing internet service providers to sell the web browsing data of their customers to advertisers and others." (Government Technology)
  • Grand jury indicts South Carolina state representative. "South Carolina state Rep. Rick Quinn used his public office as a multimillion-dollar money funnel that enriched his family’s powerful political empire while doing the bidding of shadowy corporate interests in the Legislature, prosecutors said Tuesday." (Center for Public Integrity)
  • New research explores technology used by local governments to serve and communicate with citizens. mySociety has teamed up with Microsoft on a CivicTechCities "a new piece of research looking at the technologies local governments implement to serve and communicate with their citizens." (mySociety


Image: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
  • Comey memos detail efforts by Trump to curtail Flynn investigation, suggestions that FBI imprison journalists for leaks. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that former FBI Director James Comey wrote memos detailing his various conversations with President Trump. The specific memo in question detailed a request by the president to shut down the investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn and a suggestion that the FBI should imprison journalists for publishing classified material that had been leaked to them. The memos were "part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president's improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation." 
  • Chaffetz demands documents from the FBI. "House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz is demanding the FBI hand over all documents detailing communications between President Donald Trump and fired agency Director James Comey within the next week." He also threatened to issue a subpoena if the FBI declined to voluntarily share the documents. (POLITICO)
  • The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press denounced Trump for reportedly suggesting journalists should be jailed. RCFP executive director Bruce Brown denounced the report, stating that “Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information.” Read more in The Hill. Trump has made a habit of meeting with world leaders whose countries don't hesitate to put journalists behind bars, as the Columbia Journalism Review pointed out earlier this week. 

washington watch

Image: Alex Howard
  • Sunlight's Alex Howard weighed in on how technology can improve democracy at the Atlantic. He argued that a renewed focus on civic education is key: "Every member of civil society and institution has a role in informing communities about how government works. A core component of a high school education should include teaching people how to judge risk, statistical literacy, and how to exercise our rights to access public information." Read more here. 
  • Congressman faces ethics complaint after targeting activist in fundraising plea. "An ethics watchdog claims Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen violated House rules by criticizing a local bank executive in a fundraising letter to her employer." (POLITICO)
  • New York Representative under scrutiny for investments. "Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) is under scrutiny by ethics investigators for his role in soliciting investors for an Australian biotech company, according to a news report." Collins owns a share of the company worth between $5 and $25 million and several other lawmakers, including current HHS secretary Tom Price, have benefited from purchasing stock in the company. (POLITICO)

around the world

  • EU demanding transparency in Brexit negotiations despite U.K. misgivings. "The European Union is refusing to allow the upcoming Brexit talks to take place in secret, in a rebuff to U.K. appeals to keep positions confidential. With just over a month to go before negotiations are due to start, the bloc set out how it will make its negotiating documents public every step of the way." (Bloomberg)
  • Helping journalists harness budget and spending data to benefit their reporting. "For journalists to produce more content on budget and spending issues, they must be incentivised to do so by their organizations. This could mean for news organizations to shift their focus towards public accountability. Organizations that have, such as ProPublica in the USA and Correctiv in Germany, happen to employ journalists who know how to decipher budget data." Read the full interview with Nicolas Kayser-Bril at Open Knowledge International

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 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 12th through 14th: Canadian Open Data Summit in Edmonton, Canada. "The Canadian Open Data Summit (CODS) is an annual event where the most pressing challenges facing the open data and open government communities are addressed on a national scale." Learn more 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.


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