Today in OpenGov: Chatbotanooga


Hilary Niles shared the details behind our Trump Conflicts of Interest Project, “a resource the Sunlight Foundation has built with the public and the press.” We’ll keep updating it — and we hope you’ll help. Read her post explained how we’re tracking conflicts of interest to learn more and get involved.

Read on for more on Trump’s conflicts, plus all of the latest open government news from Washington, DC and the rest of the United States.

states and cities

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee adopts Facebook open data chatbot. Nathan Zencey shared the good news that Kansas City’s Facebook open data chatbot, which he previously reported on, has inspired a similar effort in Chattanooga. (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Palo Alto California considers bringing transparency to its use of surveillance technology. Jacqueline Lee reports “An ordinance proposed by some Palo Alto city leaders that would require public vetting of existing and future surveillance technology is gaining momentum. When the City Council returns to session after summer break, it likely will review the proposed ordinance, which aims to make the city’s use of surveillance equipment more transparent.” (Government Technology)
  • Court overturns Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction. The conviction of the former New York State Assembly speaker was overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals “based on a Supreme Court ruling that loosened the definition of corruption for politicians and public officials,” reports Paul Blumenthal. Prosecutors quickly announced their intention to retry the case. (HuffPost) We worried about just this sort of outcome last year following the Supreme Court ruling in question.
  • Oregon passes most significant public records reforms in decades. The state legislatures passed four open records bills, marking the first major updates to Oregon’s transparency laws since their initial inception in 1973. Oregon Governor Kate Brown called the laws “probably the most significant reforms we’ve seen in multiple decades.” (StateScoop) We’re thrilled to see the Beaver State break up its public records dams!
  • This NYC commission is using open data to fight discriminatory landlords. Jessica Mckenzie explains how the New York Commission On Human Rights is “currently investigating more than 200 cases against landlords and brokers across the city. As part of this push, the Commission has partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics to help identify additional sites of potential income discrimination.” (Civicist)


  • Donald Trump Jr. invited to testify in the Senate. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Donald Trump Jr. a letter asking him to testify before the committee about the controversy surrounding his meeting with a Russian lawyer last year. Grassley expressed his willingness to issue a subpoena if Trump declines the initial invitation. (POLITICO)
  • Watchdogs assert that Trump Jr.’s meeting broke campaign finance laws. Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center, and Democracy 21 filed a complaint with the FEC and Department of Justice alleging when Trump accepted and attended the meeting he became guilty of soliciting an illegal campaign contribution from a foreign national. (The Hill)
  • Bannon misreported $2 million debt on financial disclosure form. “White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon failed to properly disclose more than $2 million in mortgage debt on his required financial disclosure form — an error that was compounded when top White House ethics officers certified that Bannon’s incomplete disclosure form was complete and complied with federal rules.” Christina Wilkie and Chris Zubak-Skees have the full story at the Center for Public Integrity.
  • Justice Department releases security clearance form showing Sessions failed to disclose Russia meetings. “The Justice Department released a heavily redacted portion of a security clearance formThursday confirming that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.” The documents where released following a FOIA lawsuit by the watchdog group American Oversight. (U.S. News and World Report)

washington watch

  • Inspector General wants to save the Department of Defense $34 billion. “The Defense Department’s watchdog on Thursday released a 450-page compilation of more than 1,298 open recommendations Pentagon has yet to implement, including 58 with the potential save the department $33.6 billion.” (Government Executive)
  • House Appropriations Committee considers dangerous campaign finance riders. The riders would make it more difficult for the IRS, SEC, and FEC to perform campaign and election related oversight and regulatory functions. Meredith McGehee, Chief of Policy, Programs, and Strategy at Issue One explained that ““These riders seek to legislate in darkness in order to create more darkness about who is spending money to influence outcomes in U.S. elections.” (Issue One)

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 20th, 5:00 PM EST. Webinar: The Power of Data Visualization in Cities. The Civic Analytics Network (CAN) will host a webinar, “The Power of Data Visualization in Cities,” Thursday July 20th, from 5pm to 6pm ET. The public webinar will be moderated by Stephen Goldsmith, Director of CAN and the Innovations Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the presentation will highlight some of the best data visualization products created by city governments across the country. Learn more 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 learn more 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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