Today in OpenGov: That’s quite a commute


In today's edition, a new neighborhood crime data initiative launches, annual agency FOIA reports are released, Mike Pence goes out of his way to stay at a Trump property in Ireland, and more. 

states and cities

  • Learn how to incorporate user testing into your open data projects. "User testing is used in the private sector to understand the consumers of a specific product. It’s even more important in the public sector, because governments have a responsibility to serve everyone. This includes government open data programs. Today, we’re launching a new user-testing toolkit for open data tools, websites, and products. The toolkit provides a brief explanation of user testing and how it fits in with open data, steps to implementation of a sample user testing method, and links to resources with further details and additional techniques. It’s particularly geared toward local governments, but may be useful for any open data programs!" (Sunlight Foundation)
  • USC is launching a new project to show how neighborhood crime in Los Angeles intersects with other public policy issues. "The University of Southern California is launching a data project to show the public how neighborhood crime in Los Angeles intersects with other policy areas like homelessness, housing, education, economic development, and jobs. The Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) initiative, which will take place over the course of a year, is the work of the USC Price Center for Social Innovation, a group that focuses on policy solutions to improve standard of living for low-income urban communities. Also collaborating on the project are Microsoft and the USC Safe Communities Institute." (Government Technology)
  • Connecticut governor steps in to ensure school-by-school vaccination data is publicly available. "No Connecticut governor may have ever rushed to the defense of the public's right to know faster than Governor Lamont did last week when his public health commissioner, Renee Coleman-Mitchell, said she would not release school-by-school data on the vaccination of students. Within a few hours the governor overruled the commissioner. The governor's spokesman said the data will be released as soon as it is complete and verified…" (Journal Inquirer via NFOIC)
  • How can data help cities reach their goals to limit traffic fatalities and major injuries? "Vision Zero is a road safety initiative founded by the Swedish government that has successfully mobilized in Europe and now throughout the United States. Vision Zero’s focus to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries entails all parts of the roadway system prioritizing safety. Municipal fleets of vehicles are an important part of this equation, whether they’re used to shovel snow, respond to fires and emergencies or allow city employees to drive on official business. Measuring these fleets on city streets can provide useful information toward Vision Zero safety goals, as well as other areas such as fuel efficiency and congestion management." (Government Technology)

washington watch

The Trump International Golf Links and Hotel. Image credit: whoisjohngalt.
  • Vice President Pence is staying at President Trump's Irish resort, more than an hour flight from his official meetings in Dublin. "Vice President Mike Pence and his retinue—including members of his family, his aides, and his Secret Service detail—are on a trip to Europe this week, and they will be staying at Doonbeg, Donald Trump’s golf resort on the west coast of Ireland. While he’s on the Emerald Isle, Pence will participate in a set of meetings in Dublin, on the east coast. To attend those meetings, Pence will fly more than an hour each way. That sounds inconvenient for Pence, but it’s convenient for Trump, whose business will pocket payments for the accommodations—a Pence aide didn’t have an estimate, but a conservative guess is tens of thousands of dollars. Trump has so frequently used the power of the presidency to plump for his businesses that the public has almost become inured to it, but it remains brazenly corrupt and shameless." (The Atlantic)
  • Help MuckRock assess federal agencies' most recent FOIA reports. "Every year, federal agencies tasked with responding to Freedom of Information Act requests are required to provide annual reports capturing the work that they did that year. We’d love your help sorting through some of the key numbers from 2018. We’ve loaded up more than 90 of the most recent FOIA reports into MuckRock’s Assignment tool." (MuckRock)
  • Joint Fundraising Committees are supposed to send most of their money on to specific campaigns. That doesn't always happen. "Joint fundraising committees are growing increasingly common as candidates and parties seek out big checks from wealthy donors. But while millions of dollars might flow into these committees on a single night, some of them fail to pass along much of this money to the campaigns for which they are supposedly fundraising. According to Federal Election Commission guidelines, joint committees are supposed to pass the net proceeds of any fundraising event to their affiliated committees within 10 days. Of the 204 joint committees that raised at least $10,000 during the first half of 2019, three quarters allocated at least 80 percent of their disbursements to their affiliated campaigns. But the ability of most joint committees to successfully transfer funds to their affiliates raises questions as to why some don’t do the same." (Open Secrets)
  • The EPA is the latest federal agency to stop accepting FOIA requests via email. "Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s new FOIA regulations which were implemented back in July, the EPA is no longer accepting request submissions via email, joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation in requiring requests be made through an online portal or snail mail." (MuckRock)
  • A judge told the White House to give a Playboy reporter his press pass back. "A judge has blocked the White House’s decision to revoke the press pass of Playboy correspondent Brian Karem over a Rose Garden showdown in July with former White House aide Sebastian Gorka. U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras issued a decision Tuesday evening granting a preliminary injunction restoring Karem’s so-called “hard pass” on the grounds that the reporter had no clear notice of the rules governing press behavior at events like the presidential appearance that preceded the heated exchange." (White House)


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