Today in OpenGov: Conflicting information


Editor's note: Today's edition will be the last until August 26th. See you later this month! 

In today's edition, the Pentagon IG launches a probe, outside money floods into a North Carolina Congressional re-run, the impact of community engagement with open data is measured, and more. 

Today in OpenGov

Residents gather for a community meeting. Image Credit: Chris Martin.
  • Measuring the impact of community engagement around open data. "Over time, local government open data programs have evolved from publishing large quantities of open datasets, toward improving usability and impact of open data as a tool for residents to advocate for their communities. When publishing data is the priority, metrics for success (like number of datasets published) are clear and easy to track. But as cities try to enact more effective and impactful community engagement around open data, quantifiable metrics have become much more difficult to define. As a city’s open data programs evolve, the approach to evaluating the outcomes of the program changes as well. Many cities are now developing open data programs that encourage communities to use data to problem solve, advocate, or hold local government accountable. In an effort to help cities track and understand the potential outcomes of taking a community-centered approach to open data, we have developed a community engagement impact framework that outlines the potential impacts associated with various engagement strategies around open data." (Sunlight Foundation)
  • NRA wins first round in lawsuit against Los Angeles over contractor connection law. "A federal judge in Los Angeles rejected the city’s request to throw out a National Rifle Association lawsuit challenging a new law that requires contractors to disclose all business ties to the organization. The NRA says the law violates its First Amendment rights to free speech and association by discriminating against the group over its viewpoints and trying to freeze out its corporate supporters." (Bloomberg)
  • Sparking conversations around personal data use in Japan. "On May 15, 2019, MyData Japan conference was held in Tokyo, co-organized by Open Knowledge Japan and MyData Japan. Open Knowledge Japan has been organizing MyData Japan conferences for the past 3 times (20172018, and 2019), and the movement has been growing steadily. Interests from the corporate sector has been the strongest, with 22 companies providing support for the conference. Another sign of the growth is the fact that this year, the conference is co-organized for the first time with MyData Japan, a newly incorporated entity dedicated to the advancement of MyData agendas in Japan. Open Knowledge Japan’s activities and network has led to a number of projects and organizations, including Open Spending Japan and Code 4 Japan. MyData Japan is probably the latest of such spin-offs, involving some of the active OK Japan members." (Open Knowledge)
  • Outside money is flooding a special Congressional election in North Carolina. "One month before the special election in the 9th Congressional District of North Carolina, outside groups are spending millions as both parties look for a symbolic victory during an off year. Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop will face off against Democrat Dan McCready, a businessman and Marine veteran who ran for the seat in 2018 only to see the results thrown out over allegations of election fraud by his opponent’s campaign. McCready has outraised Bishop $3.2 million to $1.2 million. But outside spending in the race favors the Republican from South Charlotte. McCready has received some outside backing from liberal groups, but not as much as he did during his last go-round." (Center for Responsive Politics)
  • Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker's conflict of interest forms weren't reviewed for a year after he joined the DOJ. "A few weeks before President Donald Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker acting attorney general in November after ousting Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department’s ethics office spotted a problem. Whitaker had joined the DOJ in October 2017 as then–attorney general Sessions’ chief of staff. It wasn’t until October 2018, however, that the ethics office discovered that 'due to administrative error,' no one had reviewed financial disclosure forms Whitaker had submitted nearly a year earlier, according to information the department filed last month in a court fight over access to records about Whitaker’s appointment." (BuzzFeed)
  • How Elliott Broidy, a controversial Trump ally, tested the limits of Washington influence. "Elliott Broidy had the kind of past that might have given a more traditional White House reason to keep him at a distance: A wealthy businessman, he had pleaded guilty in 2009 to giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to New York State officials to help land a $250 million investment from the state’s pension fund. But on a fall day in 2017, Mr. Broidy was ushered into the West Wing." (New York Times)
  • U.S. taxpayers regularly pay the Trump Organization when President Trump's children — and the Secret Service — stay at the family's hotels. "The Secret Service is required to protect the president’s children, but the tendency of Trump and his family to funnel funds to their own properties has complicated what had been a routine practice. Critics say the Trumps are using the presidency to boost the president's businesses by forcing the federal government to spend taxpayer money at Trump properties." (POLITICO)
  • Donald Trump Jr. dismisses conflict of interest concerns while launching new Trump branded properties in Indonesia. "Donald Trump Jr, the eldest son of the U.S. president, said he was upbeat about two planned Trump-branded projects in Indonesia and dismissed any risk of conflict of interest over involvement in the luxury resorts in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy…Seeking to allay any concerns about potential conflict of interest, he said the Indonesian project was one of the last the Trump Organization signed up before his father became president and the group had chosen not to take on new overseas deals to 'avoid even the impression of any kind of impropriety'." (Reuters)
  • The Pentagon IG is probing possible misconduct in major cloud contract criticized by President Trump. "The Pentagon’s inspector general is “expeditiously” conducting an extensive review of the Defense Department’s JEDI cloud-computing project, including potential conflicts of interest and misconduct in the competition that may generate as much as $10 billion in revenue…The watchdog office’s inquiry began before President Donald Trump endorsed criticism by rivals that the pending contract award favors Inc., the leading cloud services provider. New Defense Secretary Mark Esper has initiated his own review of the project." (Bloomberg)


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