Today in OpenGov: Mar-a-Lago memories


It turns out that there were visitor logs at Mar-a-Lago after all. Read on for that discovery and other open government stories, including a Latin American anti-corruption wave, calls for more transparency at ICE, and more. 


Mar-a-Lago. Image Credit: Wally Gobetz
  • DHS to turn over Mar-a-Lago visitor logs to nonprofits. In response to ongoing litigation by Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington (CREW), the National Security Archive (NSA), and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will have to turn visitor logs for President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence over by September 8th. Once received CREW plans to publicly release the logs. (CREW) We're happy to see our allies succeed in court, but it doesn't change the fact that the White House should be proactively disclosing visitor logs as open data rather than having public accountability sued out of them. 
  • Senate Intelligence Committee to interview former Obama officials as part of Russia probe. The Associated Press reports that "the panel, which is investigating Russian interference in U.S. elections, is interviewing several former Obama administration officials. Panel staff met with National Intelligence Director James Clapper Monday and will also interview former President Barack Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, a source familiar with the interviews told The Associated Press. The source declined to be named because the interviews are closed." (via Bloomberg)
  • Shaub shares ethics reform wishlist. Walter Shaub, departing director of the Office of Government Ethics, has a wishlist of ethics reforms that he'd like to see passed. They range from relatively simple to complex and politically tricky. (New York Times)
  • FEC unlikely to address issues of foreign meddling in U.S. elections. A split in the Federal Elections Commission came out during its most recent public meeting. Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub put forward proposals to address the issue of  foreign meddling in U.S. elections, but her efforts where rebuffed by the Commission's three Republican members who advocated waiting until current investigations elsewhere are wrapped up to take any rule making action. (Read more at The Hill and Mic)

washington watch

  • IRS Watchdog calls for improved FOIA procedures in new report. The report, published by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found that “IRS policies do not comply with certain federal requirements that agencies must ensure that all records are retrievable and usable for as long as needed.” The report specifically cites the IRS' practice of storing records in a variety of locations and the lack of automatic email archiving among other problems and suggests five changes for better FOIA compliance. (Government Executive)
  • Four congressional caucuses call for more transparency at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a letter delivered to ICE on July 11, leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (together known as the Quad-Caucus) called for "ICE to collect data on its facilities and detainee populations and publish that data in an accessible and public way." Read the full letter here and learn more about the issue via the Project on Government Oversight

around the world

Former Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva who was sentenced to nearly ten years in jail on corruption charges last week. Photo: World Economic Forum
  • Latin American anti-corruption movement has tackled graft across government and business. Raymond Colitt, Charlie Devereux, and John Quigley report that "a Latin American anticorruption movement is dealing with more clear-cut evidence of graft that reaches society’s highest echelons. Better-trained investigators wielding sharper legal tools have emboldened institutions in more fragile democracies. Better-educated and more worldly populations are demanding change." (Bloomberg)
  • New report explores how open government policies vary across European governments. The paper by Emiliana De Blasio and Donatella Selva "present a qualitative analysis of policy documents from France, Italy, Spain, and the UK, in order to map out the different meanings of open government, and how it is framed by different national governments." This article links to the paper and presents a short interview with its authors. (Oxford Internet Institute)
  • 7,000 Turkish civil servants, police officers, and academics fired ahead of coup-attempt anniversary. Earlier this week, "More than 7,000 police officers, civil servants, and academics in Turkey have been dismissed from their jobs according to a new executive decree published on the government’s Official Gazette website." (The Atlantic)

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 20th – 22nd, The Thursday Network's Un-Hack the Vote 2017 Hackathon, Washington, DC. This hackathon aims to "Inspire young professionals to protect the voting rights of racial minorities…[and push them] to learn about redistricting and gerrymandering and propose data and technology-driven solutions that increase public awareness." Learn more and register to attend 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: Civic Tech Fest and 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. The agenda is up now and you have until July 21st to sign up for early bird tickets!
  • 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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