Today in OpenGov: City diplomacy


In today's edition we argue for whistleblower rights, explore how the Trump Organization has benefitted from GOP political spending this year, make the case for open data to boost cooperation among cities around the world, and much more. 


  • Trump entities benefit from GOP spending to the tune of $1.3 million. An analysis of campaign filings by Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy found nearly $1.3 million in spending by Republican political committees at entities controlled by the Trump Organization since the start of 2017. (Washington Post)
  • Groups sue for public access to "voter fraud" commission records. The Brennan Center for Justice has joined with Protect Democracy in a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the  White House Office of Management and Budget regarding President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. The organizations filed suit after their Freedom of Informaiton requests to the agencies for information under the Freedom of Information Act went unanswered." (Brennan Center)

washington watch

A visual posted at the Department of Energy as part of the "Insider Threat" program. Via POGO, image special to E&E News
  • Federal anti-leak campaign raises concern with lack of nuance. Open government advocates are speaking out against the federal government-wide "insider threat" program started under President Obama, which is "aimed at deterring release of classified information." Our allies, like the Project on Government Oversight, and accountability advocates in Congress are highlighting  the program's failure to distinguish between illegal leaks and the rights of federal workers to blow the whistle. (Government Executive)
  • Why is Secretary of Defense James Mattis "declaring war" on histleblowers? Patrick Eddington asks that important question in The American Conservative, writing about the department's unfortunate history of whistleblower retaliation. Eddington argues that "unless Congress invests the time to thoroughly investigate, in open session, these past episodes of whistleblower retaliation and programmatic misconduct, we risk still more of the same—more taxpayer money squandered, and more Americans needlessly killed in avoidable intelligence failures." We agree. The Department of Defense should embrace and protect whistleblowers that expose waste, fraud, and abuse not retaliate against them. 
  • How will recent federal agency CIO departures effect modernization efforts? As with the vacuum of technology policy expertise left by an emptied White House OSTP and vacancy at USCTO role, our expectation is that it will not be helpful. "While the support and legislative momentum for IT modernization have been prominent for much of the year, the agency leadership needed to implement those plans has either not been appointed or walked out the door recently with high frequency." (FedScoop)

states and cities

Photo by Prayitno via Flickr.
  • Opening data contributes to international cooperation among cities. Sunlight fellow Saeb Ahsan dug into"city diplomacy" and public information sharing. "Open and standardized data is more important than ever as this happens," he argues. "Open and standardized data can help make inter-disciplinary, inter-sectoral, and inter-city dialogues more effective, and can help cities report back in accountable ways to their residents." Read the full story on our blog
  • Media were blocked from covering protests in Boston. Efforts by authorities in Boston "to keep the peace Saturday during a extreme-right-wing rally and massive counter protests" received positive feedback from many commentators and politicians, but those efforts had the negative effect of limiting media access to the, newsworthy event. (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • Data-driven approaches can help fight urban blight. "In response to what has proved to be an urgent urban crisis, cities are deploying a wide range of digital and data-driven strategies to address vacant and abandoned properties. From using data to drive efficiency in code enforcement to crowdsourcing the mapping of properties, cities across the country are making significant strides in the battle against blight." (Government Technology)

save the dates

  • 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 26th: Data Transparency 2017, in Washington, DC. "Data Transparency 2017 is Washington's largest open data event, bringing together government leaders, transparency advocates, and the technology industry to explore how technology can transform government, compliance, and the private sector." Learn more and get your tickets 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.
  • October 13th – 14th: 2017 FOI Summit, Nashville, Tennessee. "Music City USA becomes home for NFOIC, state FOI coalitions and open government advocates for the 2017 FOI Summit on Friday and Saturday, October 13-14, 2017.The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and our host, the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government will convene the annual summit at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University." You can learn more and register here


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