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New Louisville Open Data Policy Insists Open By Default is the Future

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On Tuesday, October 15, 2013, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the signing of an open data policy executive order in conjunction with his compelling talk at the 2013 Code for America Summit. In nonchalant cadence, the mayor announced his support for complete information disclosure by declaring, "It's data, man." What's more is this was one of three open data policies signed into law over the last week, the others being California’s West Sacramento and Oakland policies. (For the complete view, see our map of growing policies here.)

The Louisville policy is unique in that hits many of the Sunlight Foundation's Open Data Policy Guidelines rarely touched upon by others, including a strong "open by default" provision, and, like South Bend, IN, roots its basis for affecting the transparency of information disclosure firmly in legal precedent, in this case, the Kentucky Open Meetings and Open Records Act. Doing so further empowers it's "open by default" status. The Louisville policy also provides a clear series of checks and balances to insure information is disclosed by calling for (1) the creation of a comprehensive inventory supported by the letter of the law itself (which we have only seen in the 2013 U.S. federal policy thus far — and which has not yet been implemented), (2) a yearly open data report, and (3) built-in review of the policy itself for the ever-changing information and technology landscape ahead. We have broken out the significance and mechanics of Louisville's policy that support information disclosure further below.

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Reasons to Not Release Data, Part 1: Apathy

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As many open access advocates, journalists, and government employees will tell you, broaching the subject of data disclosure can raise a lot of concerns for government data providers. Pioneers looking to move their government toward exploring information release have already come up with rebuttals to many of these challenges, but the collective knowledge is hard to share, usually trapped in email groups, discussion boards, blogs, and the memories and experiences of individuals. In the wake of re-releasing our Open Data Policy Guidelines, we wanted to probe these concerns and see what information we could share that data advocates could keep in their back pocket. So, earlier this month, we shared a crowdsourced collection of the top concerns data advocates have heard when they’ve raised an open data project with government officials at the federal, state, and local level, and we asked for you to share how you’ve responded. Dozens of you contributed to this project, sharing your thoughts on social media, our public Google doc, and even on the Open Data Stack Exchange, where 8 threads were opened to dive deeper into specific subjects. We also learned about resources akin to this one from our peers at the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership and this awesome, bingo-card inspired round-up from the UK made by Christopher Gutteridge and Alexander Dutton. (The latter has even been translated into German!) Drawing from your input, these materials, and our own experience, we’ve compiled a number of answers -- discussion points, if you will -- to help unpack and respond to some of the most commonly cited open data concerns. This is mash-up of expertise is a work in progress, but we bet you’ll find it a useful conversation starter (or continuer) for your own data advocacy efforts. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing challenges and responses from our list that correspond to different themes. You can follow along on our blog and on Twitter via #WhyOpenData. Today’s theme is Apathy.

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The State of Local Procurement

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This summer, Code for America, Omidyar Network, and the Sunlight Foundation joined forces to investigate municipal procurement trends, best practices, and potential areas of improvement across the country with a Local Government Procurement Survey.

The survey yielded 31 total responses, representing a total of 28 cities and counties, ranging in population from 13,881 to 2.7 million and hailing from every region of the continental United States. The majority of respondents (93%) were government employees working with or in the purchasing department.

The Local Government Procurement Survey asked cities about procurement process data disclosure, the formal and informal procurement process for IT contracts, and what challenges existed in their current procurement system. Check out more details on our initial results below.

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