Today in OpenGov: Cities and data, clouds gather on the Census, Venezuela in crisis,


In today’s edition, John Wonderlich talks about the threat that President Trump poses to data and how cities are responding, the president’s budget proposal doesn’t look good for the Census, the situation deteriorates in Venezuela, and more…

states and cities

  • John Wonderlich discussed Trump, threats to data, and how US cities are responding. “In the face of the Trump administration’s threatening posture toward evidence-based government and fundamental norms around transparency and democracy, we are seeing how difficult it can be to generalize about Presidential administrations, open data, and the public record…[this post] is a lightly edited version of correspondence about protecting data, the Trump administration, and some thoughts about how US cities are responding to threats to federal data and its reuse.” (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Winners of NYC’s BigApps competition announced. “BigApps is a large and comprehensive civic innovation competition, one filled with workshops, mentorship pairings, and opportunities for collaboration. With a history that dates back eight years, BigApps is older than most other startup collaboration efforts, having first evolved from an incentivized campaign to enhance open data and aspirations to diversify New York’s economy.” (Government Technology)
  • A user-friendly approach to releasing open data. “To unlock the value of open data, governments have begun to launch open data sets in themed releases, which contain data and additional context about a specific policy area. These open data sets have two distinct advantages: a more useful and navigable platform for users and better marketing appeal to practitioners focused on the policy area.” (Data-Smart City Solutions)
  • Sunlight joins letter backing legislation to expand FOI coverage in New York state. New York’s freedom of information law includes a relatively broad definition of agency, but “…some government-controlled entities have asserted they are not subject to the law. Among these are SUNY-affiliated not-for-profit organizations like Fort Schuyler and Fuller Road Management Corporations, which were the focus of investigations and indictments by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s Office.” (Reinvent Albany)


US Census Data
  • President Trump’s budget proposal means trouble for the Census. “Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal for Census comes in at $1.524 billion, slightly above Congress’s $1.47 billion figure in the recently passed spending package for fiscal year 2017 and well below Obama’s fiscal year 2018 request of $1.8 billion.” A pro-Census watchdog called the number “totally inadequate” as the agency ramps up for the decennial count in 2020. (Federal Computer Week)
  • Government transparency under Bush, Obama, and Trump. A conversation between Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University, and David McCraw, legal counsel for The New York Times. (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • DOJ clears Mueller for work as special counsel despite potential conflict with former law firm. “Justice Department ethics officials concluded that it is ‘appropriate’ for recently named special counsel Robert Mueller to move forward with investigating Russia and the 2016 election, despite work by his former law firm that might overlap with his inquiry, a DOJ spokeswoman said Tuesday.” (POLITICO)
  • President Trump retains outside lawyer for Russia investigation. “President Trump has retained the services of a trusted lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, to help him navigate the investigations into his campaign and suspected Russian interference in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the decision.” (Washington Post)

around the world

Protests in Venezuela, April 2017. Image Credit: Voice of America
  • Protests against Venezuelan president accelerate as election dates are set. “Venezuela’s setting of dates for a constituent assembly and regional elections that had been postponed failed to calm the streets as the opposition rejected President Nicolas Maduro’s plans to push forward with a new constitution and called for more protests Wednesday.” (Bloomberg)
  • In Central Asia, Officials tasked with fighting corruption are increasingly under scrutiny for engaging in it. “In an unprecedented operation at the end of last month, around 20 mid-ranking and upper-level staff at the powerful Agency on Combating Corruption and Financial Control were detained in Tajikistan. In Turkmenistan, a few weeks later, the state prosecutor and dozens of surbordinates were arrested, apparently for falling into the kind of crimes that they should be investigating.” (Global Voices)
  • Mexican civil society withdraws from open government collaboration, files complaint with Open Government Partnership. Citing surveillance against researchers and health advocates, Mexican civil society groups have pulled out of the Tripartite Technical Secretariat for the Open Government Partnership in Mexico. (Fundar)

save the dates

Data Coalition
  • June 1: AgileGovCon 2017, online. “A virtual mini-conference dedicated to helping people in all levels of government effectively bring agile practices and culture into their agencies.” Learn more and register — for free — 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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