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2Day in #OpenGov 8/3/2011

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

  • David Vitter introduced legislation to impose transparency measures for the special committee created by the Budget Control Act. (Huffington Post)
Access to Information
  • Millions of federal court records were ordered to be destroyed to help the judiciary confront budget cuts. The cost of storing the documents is about $6 million annually. (iWatchNews)
  • The Faster FOIA Law, previously passed in the Senate but stripped in order to pass a debt ceiling law, was reintroduced and passed in the Senate. (FAS Secrecy Blog)
  • A review of the latest report from the newly created National Declassification Center shows that the government has doubled the rate at which it is releasing historical documents. (Federal Computer)
  • The CIA has released information about the failed “Bay of Pigs” invasion following a FOIA request by the National Security Archive. (Global Research)
Lobbying
  • The creation of a “Super Committee” to handle extensive budget negotiations has led to calls make the process and the committee more transparent. (Huffington Post) (Sunlight Blog)
  • President Obama will start celebrating his birthday a little early this year with multiple Chicago fundraisers planned for tonight. (Washington Times)
  • Law school professor Jonathan Adler presents lobbying as a principal agent problem, asking whether corporate lobbyists really represent the companies that pay their salaries. (National Review)
  • Opinion: Public sector lobbying by local and state governments is on the rise and costing tax payers money. (KnoxNews)
Revolving Door
  • The Project on Government Oversight looks at a case where having someone from the private sector at the SEC may have improved enforcement. (POGO)
Technology
  • The Federal Register released API tools to allow developers to access data on its website including information about rules and regulations passed by federal agencies. (Information Week)
State and Local
  • A county in Maryland is considering removing requirements for lobbyists to disclose their annual incomes. (Lobby Comply Blog)
  • Police in Utah launched a new website to collect anonymous tips online. (GovTech)
  • A small village in Illinois has launched a transparency website including information on lobbyists and salaries that will try to make information available to the public before they file FOIA requests. (Orland Park Patch)
International
  • China has promised more openness following a train crash that quickly became a national tragedy that was shrouded in mystery. (Reuters)

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2Day in #OpenGov 8/2/2011

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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: Lobbying

  • The 12 member “Super Committee formed by the pending debt deal is already attracting attention from lobbyists seeking to have a hand in budget negotiations. (Politico)
  • Questions have emerged about a former congressman’s support for the telecom industry before and after leaving Congress. (Daily Caller)
  • Opinion: Lobbying may not be inherently bad, but we need to make information about lobbying disclosed in a way that is meaningful, transparent, and accessible. (Miller-McCune)
  • Opinion: If Congress is going to create a super committee, it should be super transparent. (Sunlight Blog)
Government
  • Lawmakers have voiced concerns that constant down-to-the-wire votes have jeopardized commitments to post bills online for at least three days before they receive a vote. (Politico)
  • OSHA has introduced plans to improve its protection for whistleblowers and step up its ability to investigate reports. (Fair Warning)
Access to Information
  • A new complaint filed in court by the former classification czar alleges that the Justice Department and National Security Agency classified documents that did not contain secrets. (New York Times)
  • The Iowa Supreme Court will review a law which forces local governments to pay attorney fees of individuals who win lawsuits to access public records. (Quad City Times)
  • A federal judge declined to hold officials at the CIA in contempt for destroying records of interrogations that took place during the War on Terror. (CNN)
Ethics
  • A 9th Circuit decision regarding corruption charges against Rep. Rick Renzi denied a broad reading of the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution, which individuals have used as a legal shield against similar accusations. Legal experts predict the case will end up in the Supreme Court. (Roll Call)
  • The Wisconsin Democratic Party has filed a formal complaint against Americans for Prosperity because the group allegedly sent fliers  to absentee voters in Democratic areas asking voters to send in ballots after election day. (Politico)
State and Local
  • California took steps to allow campaign contributions via mobile devices, paving the way for anyone to donate money by text message. (Tech President)
  • After it was revealed that a Delaware business man did not disclose political contributions to politicians, people are calling for stricter rules regulating lobbyists. (Delaware Online)
International
  • Huffington Post reports that access to data about Canadian foreign aid has improved based on steps taken by the government’s Open Government Initiative. (Huffington Post)
  • The Chinese government has urged officials to speak openly, online with citizens about a recent train crash that was initially shrouded in secrecy. (Yahoo!)
  • Opinion: A lobbyist registration database in Ottawa is a great step towards disclosure, but it should only be considered the first step. (Ottawa Business Journal)

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2Day in #OpenGov 8/1/2011

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Happy August! 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

  • President Obama nominated Michael E. Horowitz as the Department of Justice’s Inspector General. (Main Justice)
  • Opinion: Huge cuts to the budget for the Government Printing Office have jeopardized public access to information. (American Libraries)
Access to Information
  • The American Civil Liberties Union released a report arguing that Congress should revisit and reform laws protecting disclosure of national security information. (POGO)
  • The Ninth Circuit granted a felon’s FOIA request to access information about a confidential informatant who testified against him in court. (Legal Pad)
Lobbying
  • Lobbyists on Capitol Hill are taking on legislation attempting to stop the revolving door and enhance lobbyist disclosure laws. (Politico)
  • President Obama’s focus on private space flight has opened the door for huge lobbying pushes by private companies looking to cash in on government contracts. (Politico)
Campaign Finance
  • Former Senator Russ Feingold expanded his advocacy group, Progressives United, by launching a new 501(c)(4). Feingold has promised to disclose and cap contributions to his organization. (Huffington Post)
  • Special interest groups reported contributions over the weekend revealing huge spending for a presidential campaign on track to break records. (Washington Post)
  • An investigation showed that the Koch Brothers have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Iowa politicians and purchased real estate throughout the state. (Des Moines Register)
Technology
  • Many tools developed for government challenges like Apps for Democracy no longer exist, calling into question whether government initiatives are sustainable. (O’Rielly Radar)
  • Opinion: Improvements to technology and crowd sourcing can supplement whistleblowers and help root out fraud and abuse in government spending. (Nextgov)
State and Local
  • A judge in Santa Clara, CA has proposed a decision to strike down a law which restricts contributions to candidates within 17 days of an election. (Lobby Comply Blog)
  • The Florida legislature took steps to hand control of the state’s lobbyist registration database and website over to a private company. (St. Augustine Record)
  • A water board in Honolulu, HI contributed hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars to lobbyists in an effort to steer public funds towards its projects. (Star Adviser)
  • Opinion: Governor Brown should honor his commitment to transparent, open government and release data about California’s budget and spending. (Sacramento Bee)
International
  • A new report from the United Kingdom documented the increasing IT costs facing the government and shed light on the short list of vendors allowed to provides services to the government. (Tech President)
  • The Russian Duma took steps towards open government today by hiring a new website design company to revolutionize the legislature’s website. (CMS Critic)

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2Day in #OpenGov 7/29/2011

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

  • The Government Accountability and Transparency Board held its first meeting yesterday behind closed doors. (Tech President)
  • A Border Patrol agent who refused overtime pay and faced pressure and punishment from his superiors told his story to the Advisory Committee on Transparency. (The Washington Post) (Advisory Committee on Transparency)
  • The IRS will make a database of tax-return preparers that includes information like qualifications and unique ID numbers available to the public as soon as 2013. (Bloomberg)
  • A group of House Democrats sent the White House a letter requesting President Obama consider issuing a draft executive order that was leaked in April to require government contractors to disclose political contributions. (Huffington Post)
Access to Information
  • A federal judge ruled that documents relating to Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal must be released because of their value to historians. (Politico)
Ethics
  • An investigation by the Washington Times found that only few people found guilty of campaign finance violations actually spend time in prison for their crimes. (Washington Times)
  • An Obama appointee to the Department of Labor resigned after an Inspector General’s report found “a pattern of conduct” that violated federal ethics laws. (Washington Post)
  • Opinion: Melanie Sloan argues that the ethics process in Washington is sorely lacking enforcement capabilities. (Roll Call)
Technology
  • A tech company called Firmstep launched a Web-based platform designed to help local governments launch accessible websites. (GovFresh)
  • NASA launched a new open website to highlight and encourage transparency efforts within the agency. (Gov Fresh)
  • After numerous websites crashed following speeches by President Obama and Speaker Boehner, members of the House are calling for an end to outside vendors hosting websites. (Roll Call)
  • A new report by the Government Accountability Project declared that agencies should develop specific policies to deal with social media. (Executive Gov)
  • The Department of Labor became the first federal agency to make software development kits available on its website to make its data more accessible. (US Department of Labor)
State and Local
  • Rahm Emanuel’s ethics reform efforts passed through the Chicago City Council after facing initial setbacks. The law will fundamentally change the way lobbyists work in the city. (Huffington Post)
  • Colorado issued a new rule requiring lobbyists to disclose expenditure reports regarding campaign contributions on a biweekly basis beginning in September. (Lobby Comply Blog)
  • Opinion: city council meetings should be televised and made available to the public. (Florida Times-Union)
International
  • Posts on Chinese social media websites regarding a tragic train accident are driving outrage and calls for transparency among local citizens. (Tech President)
  • A group of citizens from Iceland sent the parliamentary speaker a new constitution which was drafted by hundreds users through a popular Internet campaign. (Yahoo!)

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