Today in OpenGov: Money talks

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Jason Chaffetz, who until recently was the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, provided a partial explanation for his decision to leave Congress with more than a year left in his current term: It's about the money.

He called serving in Congress a "rich man's game" while suggesting a housing stipend to help lawmakers afford the high cost of living in Washington, D.C.. Meanwhile, Fox News announced that Chaffetz would be joining the network's ranks as a contributor, a job that presumably pays more than the roughly $170,000 per year salary of a member of Congress.  

Read on for more on the various ways that money influences politics and all the latest open government news from Washington, DC and around the US. 

washington watch


EveryCRSReport.com is a project that aims to collect and disseminate CRS reports that have been made public through alternative means.
 
  • Want to influence an election using fake news and social media followers? It'll cost you $400,000. "That’s the sum it takes to buy followers on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, hire companies to write and disseminate fake news postings over a period of 12 months, and run sophisticated web sites to influence public opinion, according to Udo Schneider, a security expert for the German-speaking market at Trend Micro." (Bloomberg)
  • Congressional Research Service reports may finally be made public. "Congress is getting closer to ordering that its taxpayer-funded research reports be made public following a breakthrough in the decades-long fight to bring greater transparency to the work of the Congressional Research Service." The House Appropriations Committee is set to adopt guidance that would push the CRS to make non-confidential reports public. (The Washington Post)
  • A Silicon Valley nonprofit's recommendations to reform Regulations.gov. "But in the June 15 report Improving Regulations.gov: A Perspective from Silicon Valley, authors at Argive, a 501c3 focused on improving transparency and accountability in regulatory decision-making, said the website’s mission would be greatly enhanced if aspects of its process were updated." The report recommends ways to improve comment related data, cut down on duplicate comments, and more. (Government Technology)

trumpland

Image credit: Steve Hillebrand
  • Trump's border wall black box fits into history of DHS contract mismanagement. "SBI was a case study in mismanaging a major federal infrastructure contract, and the new administration should review its lessons. Anomalies in this latest contracting process, such as the accelerated schedule and secrecy about bidders, indicates it may be headed in SBI’s direction. The Project On Government Oversight has learned from SBI and 35 years of investigating other contracting boondoggles that haste is the surest path to waste. Congress should also study history before it approves the White House’s budget request for the wall." (Project on Government Oversight)
  • Senate Intelligence Committee will get Comey memos. "The Senate Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement to receive memos written by former FBI Director James Comey detailing his interactions with President Donald Trump, Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told POLITICO on Wednesday." (POLITICO)
  • Trump attorney being investigated for allegedly funneling nonprofit funds to family. "Authorities in two states are looking into a nonprofit led by an attorney to Donald Trump, after the Guardian reported it had steered tens of millions of dollars to the attorney, his family and their businesses." (The Guardian)

states and cities


 
  • D.C. city government project brings scientific approach to policy. "The Lab @ DC takes a scientific approach to policymaking. Social scientists with backgrounds in statistics, economics and data science collaborate to create evidence-based policy recommendations under the District of Columbia’s Office of the City Administrator." (Technical.ly DC)
  • An island of innovation in Chicago. "Its arrival makes the island an emerging hub of smart city research and development as well. City Digital, UI Labs’ newest division, applies the Labs’ collaborative model to urban problems. By addressing urban issues related to water, infrastructure, energy, and transportation, City Digital helps positively build on Goose Island’s history by transforming it from a center of production to one of innovation and sustainability." (Data Smart-City Solutions)
  • Pennsylvania to restrict public access to police footage. "Gov. Tom Wolf says he will sign a controversial Senate bill that would limit public access to police footage. Under the bill, police footage (audio and video recordings from both body cameras and dashboard cameras) would become exempt from the state’s public-records law. That means police departments wouldn’t be required to release footage to those whose request it." (Philadelphia Magazine via NFOIC)

save the dates

Today is the 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 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: http://bit.ly/2rb4TJ3"
  • 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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