Today in OpenGov: Something in the Wray he moves


In today's look at open government news from around Washington, the United States, and the globe we focus on the lack of transparency in healthcare negotiations on the hill, the President's "voter fraud" commission, Pennsylvania's police body camera program, and much more. 

washington watch

  • 2017 healthcare reform process more secretive than secretive 2009 healthcare reform process. Audrey Carlsen and Haeyoun Park looked at a number of metrics, all of which show that the 2017 healthcare bill has been shrouded in significantly more secrecy than the last major healthcare reform process in 2009 — which wasn't particularly open itself. (New York Times
  • HHS Secretary Price accused of campaign finance violations. Charlie Clark reports on a complaint filed on July 7th by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21. "Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is the target of a complaint to the Federal Election Commission by two campaign finance reform groups that claim he violated the law by using congressional campaign funds to ease his confirmation by the Senate." (Government Executive)    
  • Federal agencies just can't quit paper. "A recent survey of federal employees shows government agencies still have a long way to go in improving their data management systems, and they face a number of obstacles including a dependency on paper." According to the survey close to 20% of agencies still rely primarily on paper records. (Nextgov)
  • What's next for These contracting documents shed some light on the question. "The federal government data repository is due for a revamp, according to contracting documents released as part of a sole-source extension granted to contractor REI." Adam Mazmanian reports that the contracting documents shed light on what might be coming next for the site, including security updates, modernized code, automation, and more. (Federal Computer Week


  • Mike Pence courts donors at private dinners. Vice President Mike Pence has been courting major political donors, corporate executives, and conservative political leaders through small private dinners at the vice president’s official residence and face-to-face meetings. Some speculate Pence is laying the groundwork for his own political future, but he may just be doing his part to help boost President Trump. (New York Times)
  • Wray ethics documents released ahead of confirmation hearing. "Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the FBI, has provided legal services to several major corporations including Wells Fargo, Johnson & Johnson and Chevron, in addition to his extensive legal work at an influential international law firm, according to Office of Government Ethics documents released Monday." (POLITICO)
  • ACLU sues President's "voter fraud" commission over lack of transparency. "The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Monday against President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, alleging the commission lacks transparency and violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act," reports Diamond Naga Siu. (POLITICO) Meanwhile, the commission has temporarily suspended its request for voter information. David Kravits reports that "the commission told a federal judge Monday that the states can hold off on supplying the requested data until the District of Columbia federal court decides whether the commission may require the states to hand over the data." (Ars Technica)

around the world

Image Credit: Matthew Richards
  • Recent incidents highlight increased risks tied to working in the public interest. "The risks of working in the public interest — whether you do it as a journalist, an activist, or an advocate for government transparency and accountability — seem to be on the rise worldwide." (Global Voices)
  • High moral bar makes it difficult for new South Korean president to fill cabinet slots. "Having announced grounds for exclusion — anyone who has dodged military service, evaded taxes, made speculative property-market trades, falsely reported an address or plagiarized a thesis, among others — Moon then went ahead and nominated some candidates who fell short." (Bloomberg)
  • Pakastani leader may face trial, heightening tensions ahead of elections. "Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may face trial after a high-level inquiry found he was unable to account for the disparity between his wealth and his known sources of income, plunging the country deeper into political crisis just months before elections." (Bloomberg)

states and cities

  • Pennsylvania Governor signs controversial bill to shield police video from public view. "A new Pennsylvania law exempts police audio and video recordings from the state's Right-to-Know Law, leaving the release of those records largely to the discretion of police. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday signed a bill that also clears legal hurdles that kept police departments from using body cameras, likely expanding their use greatly." (York Dispatch)
  • New Mexico ACLU sues Albuquerque over stingray records. "The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico has sued the city of Albuquerque, seeking records by the city’s police department about its use of stingrays, also known as cell-site simulators." (Ars Technica)
  • Mixed reviews for Colorado website focused on school budget transparency. "The Colorado K-12 Financial Transparency website provides revenue and expenditure statistics for each of the state's 178 public school districts, most schools and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, or BOCES. While some applaud the long-awaited financial picture, others say it's misleading." (Government Technology)

save the dates

  • July 10th through 24th: e-Forum Discussion on the Agriculture Open Data Package, virtual. "The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Global Open Data on Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) are inviting interested individuals to participate in this forum discussion on 'Agriculture Open Data Package' to be held on the e-Agriculture Platform. The initial target audience for this forum are policy-makers, researchers, open data experts, and/or agricultural experts – however, any one interested is invited to attend." Learn more about the forum and how to participate 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."
  • August 1st: DKAN Summit in Washington, DC. Part of Drupal GovCon 2017, the DKAN Open Data Summit will feature open data leaders discussing how DKAN can be used to facilitate government open data efforts. Learn more and register 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.
  • 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.
  • September 28th: Powering Sustainable Development with Access to Information, Paris, France. "The 'IPDCtalks' will be held to highlight and elaborate on the importance of Access to Information for all sustainable development efforts around the world. It will consist of a series of attractive and dynamic talks from global public leaders, top journalists, young intellectuals and community leaders. While some of the speakers will elaborate on the key role of Access to Information for the achievement of a particular Sustainable Development Goal, others will reflect on the essential role of Access to Information for our society and future." You can learnmore and request an invitation on the event website. If you're interested, but can't attend the event will be broadcast live on the web.


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