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Open Budget, Open Process: A Short History of Participatory Budgeting in the US

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A simple twist on the traditional budgeting process has us paying attention to payoffs for transparency. Participatory budgeting (PB) is a political process that lets members of a community vote on how certain budget funds should be allocated. By including the public in decision-making, PB has the potential to be an agent of accountability, helping to demystify city budgets, to turn voters into active contributors and informed monitors of government progress, and to help support efforts for proactive budget disclosure. As it stands today, PB helps communities explore many of these opportunities, and it serves as an important gateway to engagement with local government for a wide variety of residents, especially traditionally-underrepresented groups. It’s a transformative process -- one that may cost governments almost nothing, since it just reallocates existing funds -- and it's a process we’re eager to see explored in more detail as more and more communities hold a magnifying glass to budgetary data.

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2Day in #OpenGov 7/10/2013

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NEWS:
  • A challenger to Rep Mike Honda (D-CA) is already breaking fundraising records, even as a non-incumbent in a non-election year. Democrat Ro Khanna, a former Commerce Department official, raised $1.2 million in his first full quarter of fundraising - and according to his campaign, none of it came from self-funding, lobbyists, or PACs. (Washington Post)
  • Say, haven't we talked about this before? A slate of Republican candidates who narrowly lost in 2012 are gearing up again for the midterm elections, including Richard Tisei (MA), Martha McSally (AZ), and Mia Love (UT). They'll be bolstered by fundraising efforts by House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan. Meanwhile, the Dems have started running Pandora and Twitter ads to give Mike Obermueller (D-MN) his shot at a rematch. (POLITICO)
  •  A new report from the IBM Center for the Business of Government examined federal "tail spend", encompassing often-unnoticed spending outside of an agency's core operations. The report suggests that increasing budget transparency could cut costs in the neighborhood of $64 billion to $128 billion for the Defense Department alone. (FCW)
  • At the last minute before a Softbank acquisition of a majority stake in Sprint, a lobbying firm involved in the merger has registered itself and one of its lobbyists. Polsinelli PC registered yesterday, and the deal is expected to close today. (Roll Call)
  • The General Services Administration announced yesterday the launching of a government reverse auction site. The reverse auction works by having business offer their prices for performing a service, and the lowest bid wins.The Department of the Navy will be the first to use the new platform. (FedScoop)

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2Day in #OpenGov 7/9/2013

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NEWS:
  • What happens when secrecy laws seem to impede the government? Legal terms get redefined, documents get moved out of FOIA's reach, and rules are broadly reinterpreted. (The Atlantic Wire)
  • Obama's remarks yesterday about his administration's management reform revealed his conviction that solutions must come from the private sector - an interesting stance for a Democratic politician. (Government Executive)
  • A new rule going into effect next month penalizes businesses that misrepresent themselves as "small" to the federal government for the full value of the contract. (Fierce Government)
  • Winning a House seat cost the victor an average of $753,000 in 1978, less than half of what it does today - and that's without factoring in spending by outside groups and super PACs. (New York Times)
  • Judge James Robertson, a former member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, publicly spoke out against the court's limitations in only hearing the government's side of each case, saying that it was closer to an "administrative agency" in its proceedings. (Boston Herald)

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2Day in #OpenGov 6/8/2013

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NEWS:
  • Three years after the passage of the Dodd-Frank law, the SEC still struggles to enact even the most straightforward component, a requirement that companies disclose how much more their chief executive makes than other employees. Federal agencies have already missed two-thirds of the deadlines in the legislation, which they attribute to being understaffed, the complexity of the issues, and pushback from business interests. (Washington Post)
  • The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, once used primarily to approve wiretapping case-by-case, is gradually becoming a "parallel Supreme Court", making over a dozen rulings on surveillance, all of which are strictly classified. (New York Times)
  • Eight months after Superstorm Sandy, tens of thousands are still homeless in New Jersey - but without a sweeping independent appraisal, it's tough to judge Gov. Christie's recovery efforts. His rapport with the White House saw the launch of a "Stronger than the Storm" ad campaign that declares the state "back in business." (National Journal)
  • Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced yesterday his plans to run for NYC Comptroller, which manages city pension funds. Spitzer hopes to transform the low-profile job into an influential role governing financial regulation and oversight. (Time)
  •  With a temporary 3-2 Republican majority, the FEC could vote this week to end its working relationship with the DOJ. The current cooperation aids enforcement of the FECA by allowing free sharing of information about possible criminal violations by candidates, members of Congress and other committees. (Roll Call)

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