Today in OpenGov: Underfunded.


In today's edition, governments' role in opening social service data, OMB's guidance on a key open data law, Kellyanne Conway's refusal to talk to Congress, and more.  

states and cities

Image via Pixabay.
  • Making government websites more accessible in Portsmouth, VA. "They say that Virginia is for lovers, and in the City of Portsmouth, there is much to love. With three centuries of historic neighborhoods nestled along the Chesapeake Bay, The City of Portsmouth is the type of community families love to visit, and that residents never want to leave. The municipal leaders in Portsmouth work hard to protect their community and their citizens and strive to give residents and visitors every opportunity to benefit from public service offerings and maximize all the City has to offer. In today’s world of digital-first communications and mobile device proliferation, a successful citizen engagement strategy has to focus on equitable and easy access to digital news, information, and resources, which is why the City of Portsmouth has long been committed to a digital content strategy that aims to ensure accessibility." (Governing)
  • Governments should have a roll in opening social service data. "Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services has long been known as one of the most innovative government agencies of its kind: their data infrastructure famously enables sharing of client information across a complex array of programs and powers analytic capabilities. As Ian Mavero started his role as their Chief Technology Officer, he took on the department’s next strategic priority: further improving the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) flow of information about, well, human services…Governments can provide some relief to service providers by becoming canonical sources of data about available social services. The first step that governments can take is publishing standardized open data about the services they provide and/or fund." (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Texas won't spend state money to promote the Census, shifting burden to local stakeholders. "You've got to spend money to make money. But that's not the way Texas, and a handful of other states, are looking at the 2020 census. Officials in Texas have decided not to spend any money or make statewide plans for the census, despite the fact the state experienced massive population growth in the past decade. With federal dollars at risk, the state's major cities, business leaders and even non-profits say they are being forced to step-in instead." (NPR)
  • Pilot project in South Dakota aims to make court records accessible online. "The South Dakota Unified Judicial System is piloting a program that will eventually allow the public access to court records from any computer. The public can now only view court records on computers at state courthouses during work hours from Monday to Friday, which means some people face long drives to access the records." (The State via NFOIC)

washington watch

  • OMB releases guidance on implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act. "The Office of Management and Budget released a memo on Wednesday calling on agencies to implement phase one of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018. OMB urges agencies to deploy a four-step approach to implementing the Evidence Act…As part of the four-step plan, agencies must be able to regularly develop learning agendas, promote open data access and management, foster access to such data for statistical applications and conduct program evaluations to meet the Evidence Act's requirements for ongoing and iterative guidance efforts." (Executive Government)
  • Boosting health data portability while protecting privacy is a difficult balance. "Hospital executives, with some support in Congress, are lobbying for more regulation to protect health information from unscrupulous data mongers. But HHS is pushing forward with rules that leave that responsibility in patients’ hands. As federal rule-makers grapple with making patient data more easily shareable, some health leaders fear that their actions could lead to a proliferation of apps selling or exploiting medical data. They worry that patients are likely to sign away their rights to data — perhaps including detailed family histories — without realizing what they're doing." (POLITICO)
  • This lawmaker attacked President Trump's drug price disclosure rule just days after cashing campaign checks from Big Pharma. "Last week, Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) told The Hill that he had concerns with a Trump administration proposal to require pharmaceutical companies to disclose the cost of their drugs in television ads…What Bucshon did not say is that just a few days earlier he had received campaign contributions from two pharmaceutical companies that sued the government, successfully, to block the rule." (Sludge


White House advisor Kellyanne Conway. Image credit: Gage Skidmore.
  • Kellyanne Conway, with White House backing, defies Congressional subpoena over Hatch Act violations. "White House officials directed Kellyanne Conway on Monday not to comply with a congressional subpoena compelling her to answer to accusations of multiple violations of a federal ethics law…The House Oversight and Reform Committee authorized a subpoena for Ms. Conway last month after Henry J. Kerner, a special counsel for a nonpartisan government watchdog agency, told the committee that Ms. Conway should be fired from the White House for her 'egregious, repeated and very public violations' of a federal ethics law called the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities at work." (New York Times)
  • House Oversight Committee to expand investigation into Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' use of personal email for official business. "House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said Monday that he is expanding an investigation into the use of personal email by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Cummings told DeVos in a letter that his move came after 'disturbing new revelations' released by the Education Department's inspector general in May about how DeVos had used personal email while on the job." (POLITICO)
  • Trump administration broke ethics rules during shake up of EPA advisory boards, according to new GAO report. "The Trump administration failed to follow ethics rules last year when it dismissed academic members of Environmental Protection Agency advisory boards and replaced them with appointees connected to industry, a federal watchdog agency concluded Monday. The agency, the Government Accountability Office, found that the administration “did not consistently ensure” that appointees to E.P.A. advisory panels met federal ethics requirements. It also concluded that Trump administration officials violated E.P.A. guidelines by not basing the appointments on recommendations made by career staff members." (New York Times)


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