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2Day in #OpenGov 7/27/2011

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

  • A former member of Congress took to the floor of the House to urge current members to vote against Boehner’s debt ceiling increase, which led some to question that violated congressional lobbying rules. (Roll Call)
  • Mitt Romney held a fundraiser yesterday which included a number of K-street lobbyists. (Roll Call)
  • Representative Pitts has donated the money he received from a lobbyists who allegedly violated laws relating to contributions on behalf of a foreign government. (Politics PA)
Access to Information
  • A US District Judge denied a motion to compel the US Department of Interior to release documents responsive to a FOIA request. (Saipan Tribune)
  • Opinion: The Washington Post Editorial Board urged members of the House to take up the Faster FOIA law, which unanimously passed the Senate earlier this year. (Washington Post)
Revolving Door
  • The ties between oil and gas companies and government works remain tight despite efforts by the Obama Administration. (Yahoo!)
Ethics
  • Open Secrets speculated about what will happen to Representative Wu’s campaign cash and lobbyists bundling for presidential candidates. (Open Secrets Blog)
Technology
  • The General Services Administration became the first federal agency to transition its emails to a cloud-based system, using Google Apps for Government. (Federal Computer Week)
State and Local
  • The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors considered amendments to the county’s campaign finance laws to allow larger individual contributions and contributions from PACs. (LobbyComply Blog)
  • A county in Delaware hired a federal lobbyist with ties to the city as county administrator. (Delaware Online)
  • City officials in Sioux City, MO were outraged after the US Postal Service said that charges for its FOIA request could run as high as $831,000. (Sioux City Journal)
International
  • The Provincial Government in British Columbia unveiled three websites dedicated to releasing government data and making information available to the public. (O’Reilly Radar)
  • Opinion: An editorial applauds Vancouver Province for efforts to make data more available for public use and scrutiny. (Vancouver Sun)

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Keeping Track of Federal Agencies

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The Unified Agenda, a list of all the rules federal agencies expect to issue in the upcoming year, was published online this past spring in a new format, in accordance to a new White House directive. We reviewed the Agenda to identify steps each executive branch agency is taking to promote transparency, and the status of the action. Department of Defense:

  • Cost and Software Data Reporting - This rule amended the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to address requirements for DoD contractors to establish and maintain a cost and software data reporting process under contracts for major defense acquisition - Final Rule, 11/24/10.
  • Freedom of Information Act Program Regulation: To ensure appropriate agency disclosure - Final Action proposed for 6/11 (no action taken since 2010).
  • Government Support Contractor Access to Technical Data: certain types of Government support contractors to have access to proprietary technical data belonging to prime contractors and other third parties, provided that the technical data owner may require the support contractor to execute a non-disclosure agreement having certain restrictions and remedies - Interim Rule, Comments Due by 5/2/11, Final Action proposed for 8/11.
  • Electronic Order Procedures - DOD makes orders available online so that contracts can be issued in an electronic format. Reports must be filed in an electronic format. Final Rule, effective 5/5/11.
Department of Energy:
  • Freedom of Information Act Regulations - DOE is revising its FOIA regulations to reflect current procedures for processing requests for information that are submitted to the Agency, to ensure compliance with the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996, and to make the regulation more user friendly. - Proposed for 6/11, no action taken since 2008.
Department of Health and Human Services:
  • Third Party Auditing - FDA will allow third party entities to conduct food safety audits. The regulation attempts to include protections for disclosure of conflicts of interest when third party entities review third party companies - Proposed Rule Stage
  • Transparency Reporting - health insurance plans will be required to make information on claims payment policies, the number of claims denied, data on rating practices and other information as determined by the Secretary available to the public, per regulations in the Affordable Health Care Act - Proposed Rule Stage
Department of Homeland Security:
  • Self imposed restrictions on lobbying - Establishes procedures concerning general prohibitions on lobbying and the use of certain appropriated funds, and the appropriate penalties for violations of those prohibitions. The purpose of the procedures is to ensure that neither the recipients of appropriated funds, nor the employees of DHS inappropriately solicit for action by the Congress. - No final rule issued, comment period closed in 2003.
  • Supplementary Ethical Standards - Two significant areas to be addressed by the supplemental regulation are outside employment and the prohibited purchase of Government-owned, seized, or forfeited property by DHS employees. - Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last issued 12/10.
  • Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Procedures - This action will amend FOIA regulations including provisions governing information subject to Privacy Act exemptions and procedures for verification of the identity persons under the Privacy Act. - No action taken since 2003.
Department of Justice Department of Labor
  • Whistleblower Protections - OSHA will establish protections, burdens of proof, and standard practices and protections for whistleblowers according to new authority in Dodd/Frank bill - Final Rule-making Stage, 9/11.
  • Right to Know under Fair Labor Standards Act - Will update the record-keeping regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act in order to enhance the transparency and disclosure to workers of their status - Proposed Rule Stage 10/11.

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