Today in OpenGov: Transfer window


In today's edition, President Trump eyes action against foreign election meddlers, bots may represent the future of accountability, a revealing ruling for the Koch brothers, digitally debating Cuba's new constitution, and more. 


President Trump showing off an executive order. Via WH.Gov.
  • President Trump will reportedly sign an executive order that would impose sanctions on foreign individuals or entities that interfere in U.S. elections. "President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order as soon as Wednesday that will slap sanctions on any foreign companies or people who interfere in U.S. elections, based on intelligence agency findings, two sources familiar with the matter said. Trump’s decision coincides with intelligence agencies, military and law enforcement preparing to defend the Nov. 6 congressional elections from predicted foreign attacks even as Trump derides a special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections." (Reuters)
  • As hurricane season accelerates, documents emerge showing Trump administration transferred millions of dollars from FEMA to ICE. "As North Carolina braces for a Category 4 hurricane and Puerto Rico still struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria, documents show that the Trump administration transferred millions of dollars in funds from the federal disaster response agency to immigration enforcement. The document, titled "Department of Homeland Security FY 2018 Transfer and Reprogramming Notifications" was first reported by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and obtained by Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democratic member of the Senate appropriations committee. It shows that DHS, which oversees both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), transferred $9.8 million from FEMA to ICE." (BuzzFeed)
  • EPA watchdog will review former administrator Scott Pruitt's Superfund task force. "They're investigating former Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt's first-class flights. They're looking into two large pay raises given to political appointees that Pruitt brought into the EPA from Oklahoma. They've already finished a probe into a spike in his spending on security guards compared with past administrators. Most of the inquiries opened by investigators at the EPA's Office of the Inspector General into Pruitt concern suspected wasteful spending. Fewer of them touch on the agency's actual policy work. Now, the agency's internal watchdog has opened an audit of a task force formed by Pruitt meant to fix the EPA's Superfund program." (Washington Post)

washington watch

Image via Pixabay. 
  • Slowly but surely federal agencies are moving towards full digital records management. "It has taken years to get federal agencies to shift to digital records, and though the government has certainly not completed that transition, it is making progress.  That is the conclusion of a report last month from the National Archives and Records Administration, which found that 97 percent of agencies reported this year that they have either met or will meet the target to manage all permanent electronic records in electronic format by Dec. 31, 2019. That goal was laid out in a 2012 memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget and NARA." (FedTech Magazine)
  • Are social media bots the future of accountability journalism? "Social media bots that interact with other accounts or distribute information may be able to hold the powerful to account—automatically. Newsrooms often use bots to connect better with their audience, but increasingly, programs that monitor public information are part of serious newswork. Whether investigating a public official about an abuse of power or a corporation skirting regulations, accountability journalism is journalism’s highest calling—and programs designed to police databases or social feeds and post their findings could help to advance those efforts. Bots are actually fairly well-suited to accountability journalism…" (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • Pressure from interest groups builds on undecided Senators ahead of Supreme Court confirmation vote. "Pressure is intensifying on undecided senators before a vote to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, with one senator — Susan Collins, Republican of Maine — reporting that she and her staff have been targeted with a barrage of calls, including some using vulgar language and threats to push her to vote against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh." (New York Times) One group has secured more than $1 million in pledges, which will go to fund Sen. Susan Collins' next opponent if she votes "Yes." (Washington Post)
  • Democrats are campaigning against corruption this fall. It could help them win, but backfire in the long run. Kate Ackley explains her thinking; "Democrats are running like it’s 2006 again. That strategy may help them win races in November, but it isn’t risk-free. The revival of the minority party’s anti-lobbying, anti-big-donor messaging, known as the 'culture of corruption' mantra from a dozen years ago, speaks to disheartened voters. It also allows Democrats to highlight the persistent ethical and legal troubles, including indictments and guilty verdicts, among those in the Trump orbit. But even though the message aims to inspire voters to elect Democrats to clean up what they characterize as the GOP’s mess, it could also just make citizens feel more disaffected in the long run." (Roll Call)

states and cities

The Tappan Zee Bridge (right) and its replacement, named after former New York Governor Mario Cuomo (left). Image credit: Versageek.
  • Unions that backed Andrew Cuomo's campaign benefitted from nearly $1.5 billion worth of work on Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. "The unions that worked on dismantling the old Tappan Zee Bridge and that built its replacement contributed nearly $800,000 to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign.  Roughly a dozen unions listed in the contract for the New NY Bridge Project, a nearly $4 billion project, have donated $784,000 to Cuomo’s campaign between 2010 and now, according to a Sludge analysis of campaign finance records." (Sludge)
  • Advocacy group tied to Koch brothers must reveal major donors in confidential California tax filing. "Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a conservative advocacy group linked to billionaire Charles Koch, must disclose its biggest donors in confidential tax filings in California, a U.S. appeals court ruled. The ruling by the San Francisco-based panel reverses a trial court order blocking California from collecting information that’s already required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The ruling Tuesday opens the door to the state attorney general’s potential scrutiny of the organization’s major contributors." (Bloomberg)
  • Money is flooding the race to control North Carolina's legislature amid unexpected opening for Democrats. "An unusual political battle is unfolding across North Carolina, where national and state Democrats have recruited an army of candidates and are spending millions of dollars on a campaign to loosen a years-long Republican grip on a state legislature that has turned an otherwise evenly split state into a bastion for some of the country’s most conservative measures." (Washington Post)

around the world

Young people using the public Wi-Fi service in a plaza in Havana. Image credit: ‘Kaldari’, via Global Voices.
  • Cubans can join public debates on a new constitution using digital platforms. "Cuba’s new Constitution is now the subject of government-backed public debates across the country. To encourage greater public participation several online tools were developed enjoining Cubans from all walks of life, including those living outside the country, to share their views and ideas about the proposed constitutional reforms. Debates started on August 13 and will continue until November 15 of this year, after which the changes considered pertinent will be made and placed for a vote." (Global Voices)
  • Spanish health minister resigns over scandal around academic credentials. "Spain’s health minister, Carmen Montón, resigned her post Tuesday after being caught up in an academic scandal. Montón stepped down over allegations she was awarded a master’s degree in 2011 on the basis of fraudulent grades…Former Madrid regional premier Cristina Cifuentes and current leader of the Popular Party Pablo Casado are among those to have been previously caught up in the scandal at the same university." (POLITICO)
  • European Parliament set to vote on controversial online copyright measures. "The European Parliament will vote on Wednesday on a series of copyright reform proposals that could have far-reaching implications for Internet culture. Two particular provisions have attracted the ire of digital rights groups…What's tricky about this debate is that the European Union's convoluted regulatory process makes it difficult to predict how these proposals would play out in practice. The European Parliament tomorrow will vote on a long list of alternative copyright-reform amendments. Whatever is ultimately approved at the European level will then be sent to dozens of individual member governments who will have to translate its abstract language into concrete legislation." (Ars Technica)


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