Today in OpenGov: But their emails.


In today's edition, we continue to track the White House's use of personal email for public business, Buffalo, NY embraces open data, outside groups are increasingly outgunning candidates, and more. 


Image Credit: Photoloni
  • Use of personal accounts for White House business not limited to Kushner. "A number of top aides, including Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, and Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, have also maintained private email accounts from which they have occasionally corresponded with other White House officials and Cabinet members." (POLITICO)
  • Meanwhile, congressional oversight leaders demand information on email use. "Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, along with his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, called for the Trump White House to disclose by Oct. 9 the names of any top administration officials who use a private email address for government work and to identify any accounts and cell phone numbers that may have been used to transmit encrypted messages." (POLITICO)
  • Where's OIRA under Trump? Cass Sunstein, who lead the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs during the Obama Administration, asks why the office's website has not been updated for the Trump administration. Arguing in favor of transparency for the office, he writes, "Government websites are hardly a guarantee of sound decisions, and regulatory reform can occur without such websites. But in the modern era, it is important for major government offices to allow the public to have a clear sense of what they are doing, and what their priorities are." (Bloomberg View
  • Who manufactures Ivanka Trump's merchandise? It's hard to tell. "It is no secret that the bulk of Ivanka Trump’s merchandise comes from China. But just which Chinese companies manufacture and export her handbags, shoes and clothes is more secret than ever, an Associated Press investigation has found." (Associated Press)

states and cities

A screenshot from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition Dashboard.
  • Buffalo, New York launches an open data portal. "The city of Buffalo has announced plans to launch an open data portal in October that will give the public streamlined access to data sets about services, policing and more." (Government Technology)
  • New study finds that Wisconsin voter ID law discouraged nearly 17,000 would-be voters. "Nearly 17,000 registered Wisconsin voters — potentially more — were kept from the polls in November by the state’s strict voter ID law, according to a new survey of nonvoters by two University of Wisconsin political scientists." (New York Times)
  • New dashboard helps track court trends in Texas. "The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and January Advisors sought to examine these questions from an often-overlooked angle. Rather than analyzing police behavior, these organizations created a tool to understand what happens in the courtroom in Harris County, TX. Based on Harris County criminal court disposition data from 2010-2016, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition Dashboard allows users to visualize trends in court determinations and bail based on race, indigency status, arresting agency, and type of crime." (Data-Smart City Solutions)

washington watch

  • Outside groups are often able to outspend candidates. "As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and a related lower court ruling, outside groups are increasingly outspending candidates’ own campaigns, according to a new Issue One analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics." (Issue One)
  • Partisan gerrymandering case to kick off busy Supreme Court session. The case in question concerns Wisconsin's voting map. Greg Stohr explains that, "Although the Supreme Court has ruled against gerrymandered voting districts that disfavor members of a particular racial or ethnic group, it has never struck down a map as being so unfair to one political party that it violates the Constitution." (Bloomberg)
  • Potential whistleblowers in research institutions hampered by fear of retaliation. "Now comes an investigative report about deterrents in reporting problems with human research. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General found evidence of a fear of retaliation among whistleblowers in research institutions." (The Washington Post)

save the dates

  • 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 on the event website. If you're interested, but can't attend the event will be broadcast live on the web.
  • September 28th – 30th: CityCampNC, Raleigh, North Carolina. "CityCampNC, part of NC Open Pass, is an annual event that brings citizens, public servants, academia, and businesses together to openly innovate and improve our communities in partnership with government." This year, Sunlight's Open Cities Director Stephen Larrick will be giving the keynote address at CityCampNC. Learn more and register to attend here
  • 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.
  • November 7th and 8th: The Harvard Summit on Data-Smart Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The "first-ever Harvard Summit on Data-Smart Government [is] presented by the Civic Analytics Network (CAN), a peer group of leading Chief Data Officers from America’s largest cities working to advance the use of data analytics in municipal government. At the Summit, you will learn about the ways data is reshaping how cities across the country work and hear from expert speakers including CAN Director Stephen Goldsmith, author of The Responsive City and Director of Harvard’s Innovations in Government program. Conference participants will be able to take part in training and workshops to gather practical knowledge about how to transform city services and government through the use of data and attend sessions on topics including how cities can leverage data for public safety, mobility, inspections, and more." You can learn more and register here, note that registration closes on October 6th.
  • November 17th – 19th: Data 4 Black Lives, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Community members, organizers, academics, technologists, educators, artists, policy makers, and public servants will come together for the inaugural Data for Black Lives conference at the MIT Media Lab. Learn more, check out some of the conference panels, and register to attend right here


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