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Today in OpenGov: To HAVA or HAVA not, New Orleans opens up, FEC questions God

Thursday, September 1, 2016 14:42
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

WHO DAT-A? New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an executive order establishing an Open Data Policy today. You can see him do so in the Facebook video embedded below.  

“When I took office in 2010, I committed to making City government more efficient, open and transparent so that our residents could hold us accountable,” said Mayor Landrieu, in a statement. “From establishing the City’s Office of Performance and Accountability to launching online tools like BlightStatus, NoticeMe, and, the City of New Orleans is leading the way in providing the public the information it needs. This executive order is the next step in delivering on the promise we made to our residents and in shaping the future New Orleans for generations to come.”

Sunlight was part of developing the policy. Congratulations to everyone involved, and happy 311 data digging, everyone.

ON VOTING DATA: Sunlight’s Emily Shaw: “Voting lists have historically been open, in some way, to the public. Their openness is intended to help ensure a fair and accurate voting process. Given that history, why would access to this list – even by non-Americans – pose a problem?

“Simply put, a new requirement to digitize all voter list activity, plus inadequate funding, has created the possibility of coordinated attacks where this possibility never existed before. We have created a new risk by increasing the digitization of the voting process over the last fifteen years without adequate investments in the system’s security. In the past, we haven’t worried about coordinated electronic attacks on voter registration data because our national voter registration system was neither coordinated nor fully digitized. Now that it is, we need to consider the new risks, and new expenses, more seriously.” [READ MORE]

SHADOWED: The Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, discloses little about its investments. That’s no surprise, but a Wall Street Journal investigation found ties between its trustees and funded companies that present potential conflicts of interest.

“In-Q-Tel put in place rigorous policies to safeguard taxpayer funds, prevent possible conflicts-of-interest and stay focused on developing technology to meet mission requirements,” said a CIA spokesman, Ryan Trapani. “We are pleased that both the In-Q-Tel model and the safeguards put in place have worked so well.” [WSJ]


  • Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., is resigning from Congress next week, effective Sept. 6th. The Kentucky Republican has been dogged by ethics questions about favors he granted to his wife, a lobbyist. [Politico]
  • The Department of Transportation launched the National Transit Map.
  • Ray Locker: “CIA Director Richard Helms misled the FBI in June 1972 to cover up his agency’s role in helping to smear the reputation of Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked a secret history of the Vietnam War to the press, a newly released CIA document shows. In a June 28, 1972, memo to his deputy, Vernon Walters, Helms wrote that he asked the FBI to “desist from expanding this investigation into other areas which may well, eventually, run afoul of our operations.” Those details are included in the 155-page CIA inspector general’s report that was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch and released Tuesday.” [U.S. News]
  • The data that the President and Congress receive about military voting is often flawed. [Public Integrity]
  • Here’s a term to consider: refractive surveillance — where data collection has an impact upon people other than the those being surveilled. [Harvard Business Review]
  • In lighter news, the Federal Election Commission is cracking down on parody filings for presidential candidacies. Claire Foran: “God, Satan and Ronald Reagan’s Ghost have 30 days to respond with proof of their existence, or their candidacy will be removed from the agency website.” [The Atlantic]
  • This new policy is one of our favorite government official tweets ever.

State and local

  • Government Technology announced its 2016 Best of the Web winners, hailing the best state and local government websites in the USA. It’s great to see how far city, state & county governments have come online. Notable: how prevalent open data and  open source have become. [GovTech]
  • Uber’s penchant for secrecy is putting it at odds with traditional norms for government transparency and accountability as it expands into local transit systems — or replaces them. [Verge]


  • Is the radical transparency that Wikileaks is practicing serving the public good? “They’re just aligning themselves with whoever gives them information to get attention or revenge against their enemies,” Sunlight’s John Wonderlich told the New York Times. “They’re welcoming governments to hack into each other and disrupt each other’s democratic processes, all on a pretty weak case for the public interest.” [New York Times]


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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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