Today in OpenGov: Measuring justice, dangerous defunding of statistics, and emolumental problems


In today's edition, Measures for Justice is changing the way we track criminal justice in the United States, we are increasingly concerned about cuts to statistical agencies, the Trump organization isn't so keen on tracking its foreign profits, pressure grows on Brazil's embattled president, and more…

states and cities

A page from the Measures for Justice data portal
  • Shining a light on criminal justice, one county at a time. The nonprofit Measures for Justice "is gathering numbers from key criminal justice players — prosecutors offices, public defenders, courts, probation departments — in each of America’s more than 3,000 counties. Staffers clean the data, assemble it in an apples-to-apples format, use it to answer a standard set of basic questions, and make the results free and easy to access and understand." (The Marshall Project)
  • Texas journalists team up to boost research and data for local reporting. "By asking academics to employ in-depth quantitative and qualitative research methods, the newsroom collaboration may accomplish something many journalists can’t, because they lack both the time and the training." (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • New network aims to help cities unlock the power of data. "With the generous support of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Ash Center is working to build a national peer network of CDOs, called the Civic Analytics Network (CAN), from urban areas across the country. CAN members collaborate on projects that advance new uses of data visualization, predictive analytics, and holistic data stewardship to understand the root causes and develop solutions to important urban problems related to economic opportunity, equity, and poverty reduction." (Data-Smart City Solutions)

washington watch

  • Incident in Montana part of larger trend targeting journalists. Last night "Montana Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the floor as Jacobs tried to ask his view on GOP health care legislation." Unfortunately, the incident was "hardly an isolated occurrence. In the past three weeks, political reporters have described being arrested, pinned against a wall, slapped, and now body slammed ― all this in a nation where freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution." (HuffPost)
  • Budget cuts, political interference pose global threat to government statistics. "Around the globe, governments defunding statistical agencies has led to staffing decreases and created tough choices for statisticians." (Sunlight Foundation Blog) In an age of public distrust, it's critical for governments to invest in statistical agencies to inform the public.
  • Internet companies lobby against proposed legislation aimed at boosting user privacy. "Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) last week proposed a bill that would require broadband providers and websites to obtain users' opt-in consent before they use Web browsing history and application usage history for advertising and other purposes or before they share that information with other entities." Major Internet companies, including Google and Facebook, are lobbying against the bill. (Ars Technica)


  • Trump Organization reportedly not tracking all foreign government payments to its hotels. Despite the president's pledge, NBC News reports the Trump Organization is not tracking all foreign government payments. As we and many others have highlighted, a business that an American president earns income from taking money from foreign governments creates constitutional issues — which is why we called for disclosure and divestment in November and why we continue to track the president's conflicts of interest.
  • President's budget includes support for Obama-era technology offices. The United States Digital Service and 18F would be funded at levels on par with previous years under President Trump's proposed budget. Some had worried that the agencies would see their clout decline under a new administration. (Nextgov)
  • Icahn, regulatory adviser to the president, saves $60 million thanks to regulatory changes. "CVR Energy Inc., his oil refining company, saved about $60 million in the first quarter because of expectations that the federal government will ease a regulation involving renewable fuels, securities filings show…It’s much more than a lucky break…Icahn himself has been advocating the kind of relief that will benefit his company." (Bloomberg)

around the world

The GovLab
  • Anti-corruption protests erupt in Brasilia, renewing calls for president to step aside. "Ministerial buildings were set ablaze in the Brazilian capital Wednesday as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against government corruption, renewing calls for Brazilian President Michel Temer to step down." (The Atlantic)
  • New Smarter Crowdsourcing effort to identify innovative anti-corruption approaches focuses on Mexico. "To identify and implement innovative approaches for fighting corruption, we at The Governance Lab (GovLab) are partnering with Mexico’s Secretaría de la Función Pública (Secretariat of the Civil Service) and the Inter-American Development Bank to conduct a series of online conferences that will convene global experts from a variety of fields, including public administration, data analytics, technology, law enforcement, and business." (The GovLab)
  • Also from Mexico, a new report measuring transparency and access to information. "According to the most recent ranking of transparency in Mexico performed by Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas, the quality of freedom of information laws increased [following passage in 2015 of Mexico’s General Transparency Law] but effective access decreased. The current study analyzes these differences as well as the effects of the 2015 General Transparency Law across Mexico." (The Wilson Center)
  • Open Data Barometer finds stalled expansion. Truly open data appears to be at a standstill"according to World Wide Web Foundation researchers, who report that only seven percent of government data is fully open…The findings come in the fourth edition of the Open Data Barometer, an annual assessment which this year was enlarged to include 1,725 datasets from 15 different sectors across 115 countries." (

save the dates

  • 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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