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2Day in #OpenGov 8/26/2011

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Here is Friday’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events. News Roundup: Government

  • Speaker Boehner (R-OH) demanded that President Obama disclose more information about any regulations that cost more than $1 billion. (Politico)
  • Officials at the State Department spent nearly $750,000 on unauthorized expenditures, including a kitchen renovation. The spent funds were originally designated for emergency diplomatic purposes. (iWatch)
  • The Obama Administration is using the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, making it dangerous for people who can best report fraud and abuse to come forward. (GAP)
Super Congress
  • Many of the Deficit Committee members’ biggest donors have a lot to lose in the deficit negotiations. (Sunlight Reporting)
Campaign Finance
  • Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) will not be able to rely on Wall Street to raise money for his presidential campaign. A new rule passed by the SEC prohibits donations from financial service employees to sitting governors, including Perry. (LA Times)
Technology
  • The Army’s Old Guard is employing an army of iPhones to photograph every grave at Arlington National Cemetery to develop a digital map of the cemetery and fix discrepancies that led to mismatched burial sites. (Yahoo!)
  • The FBI unveiled a mobile device that will allow police officers to check whether suspects are on a list of high risk offenders. (Federal Computer Week)
State and Local
  • Nevada’s upcoming special election is being shaped by outside groups, such as American Crossroads, that are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race. (Roll Call $)
  • California State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) proposed a bill that will subject the California State Legislature to the state’s open records laws. (Valley Sun)
International
  • A study by the Center of Information Technology Studies at the Universidad Católica concluded that most Chilean municipalities do not comply with the country's Access to Public Information Law. (Santiago Times)
  • Opinion: Libya's next minister of oil should publish the contracts that Gaddafi made with oil companies to ensure that the new government is a world leader in transparency. (Guardian)

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2Day in #OpenGov 8/25/2011

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Here is Thursday’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events. News Roundup: Government

  • Staffers at the Government Printing Office worked overnight after the DC earthquake to ensure that its products, including the Congressional Record and Federal Register, were published on time. (Roll Call $)
  • A new survey suggests that while people want more government transparency, news organizations are spending less resources to fight FOIA lawsuits. (First Amendment Coalition)
  • Opinion: Cutting tax expenditures may not bring in as much money as estimates suggest. (Washington Post)
Ethics
  • CREW filed a complaint against Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) with the FBI and Office of Congressional Ethics alleging that he reimbursed employees and partners with corporate funds for contributions they made to his campaign. (CREW)
Super Congress
  • Deficit Committee co-chairs Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said in a statement that they have already started discussing committee rules and procedure. According to an aide, the committee considers a public website a “top priority.” (Politico)
Campaign Finance
  • A group of 100 CEOs, led by Howard Schultz of Starbucks, has pledged to stop contributing to political campaigns until politicians "stop the partisan gridlock." (Chicago Tribune)
  • Candidates running for Congress set a non-election year fundraising record in the first half of 2011, raising $285 million in just six months. (Roll Call $)
  • The Federal Elections Committee dropped its case against the National Defense PAC, allowing the group to take unlimited contributions and contribute to individual candidates. (Sunlight Reporting)
  •  Even though Super PACs are prohibited from directly “coordinating” with individual campaigns, some Super PACs are blurring the line between independent expenditure group and campaign organization. (Washington Post)
Technology
  • The Office of Management and Budget launched performance.gov, which allows the public to track the progress of federal agencies across areas such as customer service, acquisitions, and financial management. (Washington Post)
  • Opinion: The government should make unclassified intelligence reports accessible to the public and non-government experts. (FAS)
State and Local
  • Citizens in Michigan were turned away from a meeting of an alcohol advisory board charged with rewriting the state's liquors laws. Officials said that because the group is an "advisory board" it is not subject to Michicagn’s open meetings law. (Detroit News)
  • The California state government is rapidly developing new IT projects to track California's prison inmates as they are  released or reassigned in accordance with a recent Supreme Court decision. (GovTech)
  • Opinion: There is an important distinction between ex-ante transparency, making sure the process is open, and ex-post transparency, which guarantees that the public has access to what government produces. Chicago’s city government still has room for improvement when it comes to implementing ex-ante transparency. (Gapers Block)

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2Day in #OpenGov 8/23/2011

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Here is Tuesday’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events. News Roundup: Government

  • New rules from the National Institute of Health make steps toward improving disclosure rules and preventing conflicts of interest. (POGO)
  • Pending Dodd-Frank regulations will increase transparency by moving between 45%-80% of the derivative market through more regulated exchanges. (Sungard)
Super Congress
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), a member of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, announced that the committee has already held conference calls and may have a website up by the end of the week. (Politico)
  • Opinion: Given the special interests surrounding the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, committee members should be required to disclose contributions within 48 hours of receiving them. (New York Times)
Lobbying
  • A number of organizations that have lobbied the US on behalf of issues concerning Libya are closely watching developments in Tripoli. (Politico)
Campaign Finance
  • The AFL-CIO has announced it intends to create a “Super PAC” to oppose candidates that have supported anti-union legislation. (Politico)
Technology
  • IBM's Center for the Business of Government released a report recommending that government agencies do more to educate the public about the Open Government Initiative to increase “high quality public participation.” (NextGov)
  • Opinion: America’s CIO should look to foreign countries for ways to improve our use of technology and bring down costs. (GovTech)
  • Opinion: "Risk aversion and fear of the unknown" prevent governments from making progress with information technology and open government initiatives. (Gov in the Lab)
State and Local
  • Lobbyists paid by local Illinois municipalities are hard at work lobbying the state government to roll back provisions of a recently passed update to the state's FOIA law. (Northwest Herald)
  • Opinion: Many of San Francisco’s open government applications make information available only to people who know what they want and how to use it. Many consider the available information to be selective, incomplete, and boring. (SF Public Press)
International
  • Prince Charles is under fire for allegedly using his private charities to lobby government ministers. (Daily Mail)
  • Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson may have received a large severance package and benefits from the paper’s parent company while he worked as an aide for Prime Minister David Cameron. (BBC)
  • Ilgar Mammadov, co-chairman of the Republican Alternative civic movement in Azerbaijan, talked to Revenue Watch about what transparency in Eurasia means for global open government efforts. (Revenue Watch)

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2Day in #OpenGov 8/22/2011

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Here is Monday's look at the week’s transparency-related news items, congressional committee hearings, transparency-related bills introduced in Congress, and transparency-related events. News Roundup: Government

  • Members of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction have begun to iron out details about the committee including who will staff it, when it will meet, and whether those meetings will be public. (Roll Call $)
  • The Library of Congress will lose nearly 10% of its workforce by Nov. 3 as the Library offers buy-outs to select employees in an effort to reduce operating costs and confront budget cuts. (Roll Call $)
Access to Information
  • Members of Governor Rick Scott’s (R-FL) transition team announced that internal emails, potentially public records, were accidentally deleted. (TampaBay.com)
  • Opinion: America is at risk of losing valuable census data in the name of government austerity. (Washington Times)
Revolving Door
  • The Obama Administration’s nominee for the No. 3 position in the State Department works for an international consulting firm with clients who have lobbied the department. (Washington Times)
  • Former Rep. Chris Carney (D-PA) was hired by BAE Systems, a defense contractor, less than a year after he helped the company receive a $1.6 million earmark. Carney will work on homeland security and policy issues for the company. (National Journal)
  • Lobbyists for Health IT companies are trying to influence Affordable Health Care Act regulations. At least 70% of registered Health IT lobbyists have worked for the government at one time. (IWatch)
Campaign Finance
  • Recently elected Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA) sent an email to various lobbyists and political action committees urging them to organize fundraisers and arrange meetings with her. (Roll Call)
  • Bank of America’s Director of Public Policy was overheard at an event for presidential candidate Rick Perry saying “Bank of America. We will help you out.” (Politico)
  • Paul Blumenthal takes a detailed look at Citizens for a Working America, a political action committee supporting presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) in the 2012 election. (Huffington Post)
  • As governor of Texas, Rick Perry gave tax breaks, grants, and appointments to his prominent supporters and their businesses. (New York Times)
  • Opinion: Is Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC crossing the line between comedy and politics, or shedding light on a controversial issue that goes unreported? (New York Times)
Technology
  • Robert Cheetham, the director of The Public Mapping Project, discusses efforts to develop easy-to-use tools that make the process of redistricting more accessible to the public. (Directions Magazine)
  • Opinion: Contests to develop open-government apps often spark innovative projects that quickly fade away. New contests should include a focus on sustainability. (O’Reilly radar)
State and Local
  • Vermont launched a new feature on its website that allows users to access information about more than 100,000 transactions between the state government and private vendors. (VT Digger)
  • After intense lobbying efforts by the American Chemistry Council, California included language that highlights the benefits of plastic bags in its new environmental curriculum. (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • A court in Illinois imposed civil penalties on a school district for repeatedly violating the state’s FOIA law. The case was the first to apply new provisions of Illinois' new FOIA law that came into effect last year. (Rock River Times)
  • Former California legislators are using their influence and relationships to work as lobbyists or “consultants” in the capitol. (Sacramento Bee)
International
  • Brazil has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals and resignations. Four senior officials have stepped down in the last 3 months alone. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Jamaicans United for Sustainable Development sent a letter to the Electoral Commission of Jamaica calling on the political body to increase regulations on political ads. The group also called on the legislature to pass a number of transparency measures, including limits on campaign contributions and independent audits of political parties. (Jamaica Observer)

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