Today in OpenGov: Co-creating better FOIA software


After another tumultuous week in Washington, we’re glad it’s Friday. Please keep sending us your comments and tips at!

washington watch

  • Almost nobody knows what’s in the Senate health care bill. (NBC News)
  • Secrecy around the Senate health care bill is the opposite of how the legislative process in a democracy should work. (NBC News)
  • Secrecy leads to bad policy. In health care, bad policy can lead to deaths. Veteran health care correspondents Julie Rovner and Sarah Kliff have never seen a process like this. (Vox)

states and cities

  • Maps combined with open data are powerful ways to understand the world as it is, as it was, or should be. This “map of the month” shows the history of redlining in Louisville. (Harvard Ash)

Working in the open

  • 18F published a research update on its work building a new Freedom of Information Act portal for the United States.

    Now, they need YOUR help. “We are sharing our initial research because we know it is imperfect and would greatly appreciate your feedback. Please open an issue in GitHub or email us at, and keep our contributing policy in mind.” (18F)

around the world

keep it online

  • Indian states have had 20 Internet shutdowns so far in 2017. Sunlight opposes Internet shutdowns. They are the calling card of governments afraid of what their people will tell the world and one another. For us, the logic is inexorable: If access to information is a right, and an informed public is essential to accountable government, then blocking access to public information is anti-democratic. (Human Rights Watch)

save the dates

The Committee on House Administration
  • 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 28th, 10am EST: How Can Demand Driven & Bottom Up Social Accountability Tools Improve Health Services? The Experience of Rural Mozambique, Webinar. “This webinar explores how Concern Universal has managed to find the intersections in incentives and goals between government and rural communities while helping overcome some crucial gaps in health service delivery. It focuses on lessons learned through application of collaborative government/citizen’s approach. More information 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.
  • July 5, 10am EST: ICT-mediated Citizen Engagement: Voice or Chatter? Webinar. “In this webinar, IT for Change will present the results of eight empirical case studies of citizen engagement through ICTs they undertook. This research, funded by Making All Voices Count, explored in each case how new forms of participation were shaped by IT, how IT affected power relations between government and citizens, and how the interactions between different actors continuously shape governance. More information 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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