Today in OpenGov: Under pressure


Today we're getting an early start on our Independence Day celebrations with #TinyDeclaration, a contest co-sponsored by Slate and the National Archives to distill the Declaration of Independence down into a single tweet.  You have until Thursday at Noon EDT to tweet your ideas @Slate. The winner will be announced during the National Archive's 4th of July Celebration

Read on for a full slate of open government news from Washington, around the U.S., and across the globe…

Washington watch

  • Sunlight joins coalition calling on Congress to oppose dangerous DoD FOIA exemption. The groups called "for Congress to oppose the Department of Defense’s (DoD) proposal to alter the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in FY18’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The FOIA exemption proposed by the DoD would severely undermine the FOIA by creating an unnecessary secrecy provision at odds with FOIA’s goals of transparency and accountability." Read the full letter at
  • Meanwhile, more than $600 billion in Defense spending is being considered behind closed doors. If you agree that the National Defense Authorization Act should be considered in the open we urge you to contact members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and let them know how you feel. 
  • House Ethics Committee looking into allegations against three Democrats. "Democratic Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico are under scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee for alleged violations, although both men strongly deny any wrongdoing." The Chief of staff for Rep. John Lewis is also being investigated for allegedly serving in campaign and official roles simultaneously. The committee has 45 days to decide if full scale investigations are warranted. (POLITICO)
  • Federal Investigators looking at Jane Sanders' involvement in real estate deal. "Federal investigators are looking into the finances behind a real estate deal for a now-defunct college put together by the wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, and she has hired a lawyer to look after her interests, a family spokesman confirmed on Monday." A Sanders spokesman dismissed the allegations as politically motivated (Bloomberg)
  • How are agencies responding to the DATA Act? "On May 9, the DATA Act’s main deadline arrived. Every federal agency began reporting spending information to the Treasury Department using a new data format…" agencies have responded in four ways outlined in this article. (Nextgov


The existing F.B.I headquarters in Washington, DC. 
  • EPA Chief of Staff pressured scientific adviser to change congressional testimony. "The Environmental Protection Agency’s chief of staff pressured the top scientist on the agency’s scientific review board to alter her congressional testimony and play down the dismissal of expert advisers, his emails show." The requests came after the testimony had been officially submitted to Congress. (New York Times)
  • Trump ties are complicating a development firm's bid to build the new F.B.I. headquarters. "A commercial real estate firm, Vornado is widely reported to be a finalist to build a new campus for the FBI somewhere in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. But its financial ties to President Trump are raising concerns about conflicts of interest." (NPR)
  • How did this Russian bureaucrat end up with $8 million worth of Florida real estate? "Out-of-town money pouring into South Florida real estate is as old as Henry Flagler…But the tale of Igor Zorin offers a 21st-century twist with all the weirdness modern Miami has to offer: Russian cash, a motorcycle club named after Russia’s powerful special forces and a condo tower branded by Donald Trump." (Miami Herald)

around the world

Brazilian President Michel Temer
  • Brazilian President charged by top prosecutor. "Rodrigo Janot has charged Temer with alleged passive corruption and stated there are indications of other crimes that need to be investigated, according to documents filed at the Supreme Court. The highly-anticipated charges need to be approved by two-thirds of Brazil’s chamber of deputies to proceed. It is not yet clear how long that process will take, but if the president is eventually found guilty he would be stripped of office and could be jailed." (Bloomberg)
  • Open knowledge in Nepal. "Since February 2013, Open Knowledge Nepal has been involved in research, advocacy, training, organizing meetups and hackathons, and developing tools related to Open Data, Open Government Data, Open Source, Open Education, Open Access, Open Development, Open Research and others." They are now officially joining the Open Knowledge Network. (Open Knowledge)
  • A $7 million boost for open data in New Zealand. "Statistics minister Scott Simpson has announced funding of $7.2 million over the next three years to speed the release of government data under the government’s open data initiative." (Computerworld New Zealand)

save the dates

Today is the  Legislative Data and Transparency Conference in Washington, DC. "The Legislative Data and Transparency Conference 2017 (#LDTC17), hosted by the Committee on House Administration…#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 5th, 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:"
  • July 19th, 5:30 PM EST. Book Discussion: When Your Job Wants You To Lie in Washington, DC. "Join us for a discussion that will help us deal with the kinds of situations we all encounter. Presented by the American Society for Public Administration, National Capital Area Chapter (ASPA NCAC). Refreshments start 5:30, and the discussion starts 6:00. Space is limited, so you must RSVP in advance." Learn more and RSVP here
  • July 27th, 10 am: Chief FOIA Officers Council Meeting in Washington, DC. "OGIS and the Department of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice are happy to announce that the next meeting of the Chief FOIA Officers Council will be held on Thursday, July 27th from 10 am to noon. You can register to join the audience in the William G. McGowan Theater beginning on July 26. You can also plan on watching the livestream via the National Archives’ YouTube Channel."
  • 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.
  • September 13th: Civic and Gov Tech Showcase in San Jose, California. "Innovate Your State, in partnership with Microsoft and the City of San Jose, is bringing the 3nd Annual Civic & Gov Tech Showcase to the Capitol of Silicon Valley. The Civic & Gov Tech Showcase is an opportunity to connect with civic minded entrepreneurs, potential investors, and government leaders to showcase the great work that is being done to improve government and governance. The goal of the event is to encourage collaboration and the support of new technologies to improve government and public participation." Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 14th – 16th: Digital Humanities and Data Journalism Symposium, in Miami, Florida. "Digital humanists and data journalists face common challenges, opportunities, and goals, such as how to communicate effectively with the public. They use similar software tools, programming languages, and techniques, and they can learn from each other. Join us for lectures and tutorials about shared data types, visualization methods, and data communication — including text visualization, network diagrams, maps, databases and data wrangling. In addition to the scheduled content, there will be opportunities for casual conversation and networking." Learn more and register here.


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