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Today in OpenGov: Obama’s legacy on transparency, open data portals sprout across America

Friday, September 2, 2016 12:26
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

MOST TRANSPARENT? Over the past seven years, we have both acknowledged the Obama administration’s progress on open government, decried its failures and advocated for reform. The challenge that we and the rest of the country face in judging the veracity of White House press secretary Josh Earnest’s argument is that there is no consensus for what the “most transparent administration” in U.S. history is, nor how we should assess such a claim. In that context, what would be the right gauge for judging adherence to transparency and open government? Here are some approaches to evaluating an administration’s openness that go beyond the headlines, and some thoughts about how to sort through them. If you have more metrics and questions than those listed, please let us know. [READ MORE]

ON EDUCATION DATA: Sunlight’s Richard Yarrow looked at the state of play of open data on education in the USA and found the decentralization present “mind-boggling.” Depending upon how you feel about student privacy or federalism, that may be or bug or a feature. [READ MORE]


  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a two-part summary [PDF | PDF] of its interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about her use of a private email server during her public server. []
  • Anita Kumar: “While Clinton had signed an ethics agreement to largely remove herself from issues involving her family’s foundation after she became the nation’s top diplomat in 2009, the document did not apply to her aides at the State Department.” [McClatchy D.C.]
  • GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump paid the IRS a $2500 penalty for violating gift rules with a $25,000 campaign donation to the Florida attorney general. [Washington Post]
  • Ian Vandewalker: “A new analysis shows that ‘shadow party’ groups, outside spenders with close ties to the Senate leadership of each party, have already spent $47 million in 2016’s closest U.S. Senate races.” [Brennan Center]
  • “Hillary Clinton was right about the vast right-wing conspiracy,” reports Karen Tumulty. “Here’s why it exists.” [Washington Post]


  • Eric Lipton obtained draft legislation provided to lawmakers by the tobacco industry that would block rules on e-cigarettes that former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu lobbied for on Capitol Hill within a year of leaving office. [New York Times]
  • Here’s 9 notable decisions on the Freedom of Information Act from the past month. [FOIA Project]
  • “Your lawmaker’s Facebook page could be a scam,” reports Lindsay Wise. This is one reason why verifying government social media accounts matters. [McClatchy DC]
  • 25 years later, what happened to the ambitious reinventing government initiatives of the 1990s? Hint: they’re not done yet. [Governing]

State and local

  • California launched an new state-wide, open source open data portal at [GovTech] [Route Fifty]
  • Good idea: “Proposition 54, which will be considered by California voters on Nov. 8, would require most bills be in print and online for public review for at least 72 hours before final legislative votes.” [LA Times]
  • Oregon is charging a nonprofit that operates, an online database of government spending, almost $24,000 for public records. [KATU]
  • Seattle published its open data playbook – as a PDF. []
  • The City Council of Scottsdale, Arizona committed to opening data. []
  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia recommended that the Department of Justice prosecute former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell again for corruption. [Washington Post]
  • New York City is asking for feedback on draft geospatial open data standards. []
  • New York Mayor Bill deBlasio now wants police discplinary records to be public. Good. [Politico New York]


  • Juliana Barbassa looked at where Brazil is today, including this insight about the former President and the Lava Jato scandal: “Ms. Rousseff herself was one of the few high-level politicians unscathed by charges, but many of her confidants have been arrested or are on trial.” [New York Times]
  • The Alternative Information Center complained to the Open Government Partnership about Israel’s behavior. [FreedomInfo]
  • Here’s a look at policy in the data age from McKinsey, focused on “data enablement for the common good.” []
  • Article 19 welcome Kenya’s new access to information law. [Article 19]
  • Making data more open could help a lot with voter registration in Toronto. [Toronto Star]
  • If you’re looking for a great digest of research on innovation in governance, make sure to read the GovLab Digest. We could pull the links out here, but better to just click through.


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We want to find and share the most important stories about open government around the world from the past 24 hours here. To do that, we’ll need YOUR help. Please send your tips and feedback at [email protected]. If you would like suggest an event, email us by 7 a.m. on the Monday prior to the event.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.


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