Today in OpenGov: On the record


In today's edition, we explore the ways that cities depend on federal data, the House votes to boost its subpoena powers, we invite the White House to go on the record with us, Poland risks destroying its judicial safety valve, and more. 

states and cities

  • The many ways that American cities rely on federal data. To learn how important federal data is to cities, the Sunlight Foundation, in partnership with DataLensDC, conducted a national survey of city staff about how federal data informs their work. What we confirmed is that federal data is uniquely important to cities. The United States government collects information on things like population, household incomes, race and ethnicity, public health, environmental quality, and economic activity, among many categories, that municipalities cannot. You can read the findings, our analysis, and the underlying data on the Sunlight Foundation blog
  • When body cam footage becomes a tool for PR, not accountability. Inconsistent policies governing the release of police body camera footage helping turn technology that was originally adopted to boost police accountability into another tool for public relations. This report by Steve Friess digs deep into the topic, highlighting a number of examples and efforts at reform. (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • A new framework to measure citizen trust in local governments. "In their paper 'Validating a scale for citizen trust in government organizations' for the International Institute of Administrative Sciences, Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen and Eva Knies of the Utrecht University School of Governance in the Netherlands sought to outline and test a method for local government organizations to determine how much citizens trust them." (Data-Smart city Solutions)


Image Credit Steve Bustin.
  • White House wants to go on-the-record more often in effort to fight anonymous sources. "White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday night that the White House would push for more on-the-record engagements with the press going forward in an effort to stop anonymously sourced stories." (POLITICO) We're ready whenever the White House is. In fact, we sent them our questions months ago and would still publish the answers.
  • President Trump's "voter fraud" commission wants your data, may struggle to protect it. "The voter-fraud-checking program championed by the head of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity suffers from data security flaws that could imperil the safety of millions of peoples’ records, according to experts." (ProPublica)
  • The White House aides meet with outside group planning multi-million dollar tax reform push. "Senior White House officials huddled on Monday evening with the leaders of an administration-backed political group to begin mapping out a multimillion-dollar campaign to sell tax reform." According to this report by Alex Isenstadt, White House aides including Jared Kushner and Nick Ayers met with "top strategists for the pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies." The group is planning "to wage an aggressive effort to push tax reform, according to four people with knowledge of the discussion. The group told the White House it was planning to spend in the millions."  (POLITICO)

washington watch

  • The House of Representatives votes to boost congressional subpoena power. "The House easily passed legislation on Monday to enhance congressional committees’ subpoena powers for investigations…Under the bill, House and Senate committees would be allowed to seek expedited court review by a three-judge district court panel if a witness refuses to comply with a subpoena, with direct appeal to the Supreme Court." (The Hill)
  • Federal judge refuses defense request to dismiss charges against former Rep. Aaron Schock. "A federal judge in Illinois on Monday let stand the vast majority of the indictment against former GOP Rep. Aaron Schock, refusing a defense request to dismiss the charges." However, according to this report by John Bresnahan, "U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce threw out two of the 24 counts against Schock, which followed an earlier ruling where the judge agreed with the defense team that federal prosecutors had not been candid about their dealings with the grand jury that charged the one-time Republican rising star." (POLITICO)
  • Meuller looking into top Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta. "Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News." (NBC News) Our friends at Open Secrets have more on the so-called "super lobbyist" Podesta. 
  • House Oversight Committee wants documents on personal email use by White House officials, can't agree on how to get them. "Republicans and Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee agree on the goal of obtaining documents that may show possible violations of federal records laws by Trump administration officials using personal email accounts to conduct official business." But, according to this report by Charles S. Clark, they can't agree on the right strategy to convince the White House to give up the documents in question. (Government Executive)

around the world

Image via Civicist.
  • Malaysian civic tech group aims to boost access to information ahead of elections. "Any day now, elections are expected to be called in Malaysia in what many expect to be the closest, most hard-fought race in the country’s history. Aiming to make a real impact on the information voters can access ahead of the election is the Sinar Project, a nonpartisan Malaysia civic tech organization with a simple, but powerful mission: to use open source technology to make Malaysian government transparent and accountable, and empower citizens to participate and engage with civic institutions and political representatives." (Civicist)
  • Efforts to reorganize Poland's Supreme Court could threaten rule of law in the country. "Plans by Polish President Andrzej Duda and the ruling Law and Justice party to reorganize the country’s Supreme Court would remove the last safety mechanism protecting the rule of law in Poland, according to the country’s ombudsman." (POLITICO)
  • New report explores concerns around big data, open data and privacy. "Last year, the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, Professor Joe Cannataci, initiated a study on big data and open data, looking at the task of reconciling the societal benefits offered by new information and communications technologies with the protection of fundamental rights such as the right to privacy." The report was released last week. (OpenGovAsia)


Tired of your boss/friend/intern/uncle forwarding you this email every morning? You can sign up here and have it delivered direct to your inbox! Please send questions, comments, tips, and concerns to We would love your feedback!