Today in OpenGov: The price is flight


In today's edition, we urge Twitter to step up and disclose its political ad file, lament a decision that will make it more difficult to prosecute public corruption in the United States, take note of the White House's affirmed commitment to open data for economic outcomes and "operational transparency," and more.  

washington watch

The Supreme Court. 
  • The Supreme Court is coming back, but you still won't be able to watch. As David Hawkings explains, "The Supreme Court term starting next week promises to be among the most consequential in years, but it’s guaranteed to be as invisible as ever to the American citizenry. The campaign to get cameras in the courtroom has almost totally foundered. Instead, some open-government advocates have started campaigning to simply hear oral arguments in real time  — so far, also with no success." (Roll Call)
  • Twitter won't commit to full transparency on political ads. "Facebook pledged last week to reveal all ads being shown to its users, even those not appearing on advertiser profiles, after it was revealed that the company ran Russian-linked ads meant to influence the election. Twitter, however, will not commit to the same, and appears to have no plans to expose its so-called dark posts to public scrutiny." (BuzzFeed) We think that Technology companies should disclose public ad files. As with other platforms, we hope Twitter will demonstrate leadership by acknowledging the issues dark ads on social media present for democratic states and work with the FEC and Congress on reforms.
  • Bipartisan movement towards evidence-based policymaking not without political implications. "Four members of the recent congressionally chartered Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking on Tuesday faced skepticism from lawmakers about their proposals to add new agency implementation staff. They also glimpsed some political fireworks that could threaten what has been a bipartisan project." (Government Executive)
  • Major corruption conviction overturned, raising the bar for prosecuting public corruption. In a ruling that overturned the convictions of Dean Skelos, the former Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, and his son Adam, "the judges — just as another appellate panel did in July for Sheldon Silver, the former longtime Democratic speaker of the State Assembly — cited a decision last year of the United States Supreme Court that narrowed the legal definition of corruption in a case that involved Bob McDonnell, the former Republican governor of Virginia." (New York TimesWe've been concerned about this trend for some time. The bar for prosecuting public corruption in the United States has been raised. 


  • Trump White House affirms support for open data. Yesterday, Chris Liddell, director of strategic initiatives at the White House Office of American Innovation, and Margie Graves, the acting Federal Chief Information Officer spoke at a conference hosted by the Data Foundation, "reaffirming the Trump administration’s support for open data initiatives." (NextGov)
  • Price paired private jet jaunts with friends and family time. "Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price took a government-funded private jet in August to get to St. Simons Island, an exclusive Georgia resort where he and his wife own land, a day and a half before he addressed a group of local doctors at a medical conference that he and his wife have long attended. The St. Simons Island trip was one of two taxpayer-funded flights on private jets in which Price traveled to places where he owns property, and paired official visits with meetings with longtime colleagues and family members." (POLITICO)
  • Senate Judiciary seeks CIA information on Russian meddling. "The GOP chairman and top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee want the CIA to hand over information related to Russian meddling in the 2016 election that the Senate intelligence committee has already viewed." (POLITICO)

around the world

  • South African labor unions strike against corruption. "Workers from South Africa’s biggest labor group joined a one-day strike in cities across the nation’s nine provinces to protest against corruption that it says is thriving under President Jacob Zuma’s administration." (Bloomberg
  • New app makes it easier to access data on forest change. "A new mobile app from the World Resources Institute (WRI) allows easy, offline access to data about forest change from Global Forest Watch…The app displays forest change on the mobile devices in the hands of forest managers, indigenous communities and law enforcement anywhere in the world, regardless of connectivity, so that deforestation can be located and reported easily." (OpenGovAsia)

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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