Many cities with open data policies are taking new and varying approaches as to how they engage their open data users and manage their relationships with the broader community. These approaches may differ based on the strategic goals and capacity of an open data program, but given that this work is still relatively new, there … Read moreCommunity engagement and open data in action: Boulder, Gilbert, Philadelphia
In August, we published a community engagement impact framework that we hope will give local open data programs a blueprint for tracking and assessing the impact of their community engagement work. To show this framework in action, we applied it to the open data programs of Louisville and Pittsburgh (whose open data program is run … Read moreCommunity engagement and open data: impact framework applications
Our newest report is a deep dive into how federal web messaging related to the LGBTQ community has evolved under the Trump administration. The report noted a reduction in information specific to the LGBTQ community and changes in language usage related to freighted terms like “gender” and “sex,”” as well as a marked increase in … Read moreChanges to Department of Labor and Healthcare.gov websites foreshadowed formal LGBTQ policy shifts
Since President Trump’s inauguration, his administration has made numerous policy changes that may affect the rights and lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people, including increasing emphasis on religious freedom and conscience protections, rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender populations, and reducing efforts to increase data coverage of LGBTQ populations in federal … Read moreNew Web Integrity Project report documents changes to LGBTQ-related web content under the Trump Administration
Open contracting is one of the most exciting strategies towns and cities can adopt to give residents access to information on how public money is spent. This blog post is the second in a series exploring how open contracting is not just a process improvement, but a reform that could bring positive change to some … Read moreOpen contracting in practice: protecting digital rights and responsible emerging tech
The Sunlight Foundation is supporting a piece of bipartisan legislation that will help make the federal government’s spending choices a bit less opaque by mandating the centralization of important budget documents. It’s one that has us at the Web Integrity Project particularly excited, because it’s all focused on our favorite thing: the federal web. When … Read moreThe Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act would help the public stay informed about how their tax dollars are spent
Property registrations may seem like a mundane aspect of municipal government operations, but my prior work on civic hacking and housing advocacy with the Open Cities team had me looking into its implications for residents’ access to stable and secure housing. Many cities require that property owners register their buildings in some form, though the … Read moreInspections, Rent Control, and AirBnB: The Power of Property Registrations in Housing Regulation
Diverging opinions about the National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices do not undercut the need for agencies to engage in proper web governance when removing resources. The homepage of the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) website as captured by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine on July 22, 2018. The Substance … Read moreA ‘Huge Loss’ or a Skewed Dataset?
Confusion, frustration, and irritation could be avoided by adopting four key principles when updating government websites. The “Grantee Stories, Tools, & Resources” page from the Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (CAPT) website as captured by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine on April 24, 2019. The page, like many others on the CAPT website, … Read moreRecent SAMHSA website overhaul likely left users confused, frustrated, and irritated
The Sunlight Foundation is thrilled to announce the Technology For Integrity program, described below, in partnership with our colleagues from Transparency International Russia. Stronger ties between US and Russian anti-corruption work, from investigation to advocacy to analysis, will help strengthen efforts in both countries. Corruption functions internationally, and using data to help build more transparent, … Read moreAnnouncing Technology for Integrity, a US-Russia Exchange Program
ORR hardened language about unaccompanied children, removed information about services, and reacted defensively to criticism Children at the ORR facility in Homestead, Florida (Department of Health and Human Services). Since taking office, the Trump administration has made restrictions on immigration a centerpiece of its agenda. In pursuit of that agenda, the administration uses rhetoric that … Read moreNew Report Reveals Trends in Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Unaccompanied Children Website
Regular public consultation is a well-established practice for government in the U.S. at all levels. Technology has changed how governments collect feedback online and by providing a more open forum for participation to solicit feedback and integrate the public in the policymaking process. But, even when done with the best intentions, public consultations can provide … Read moreWhen public consultations & comments go awry
Sunlight’s Open Cities team helps cities develop open data policies and effectively engage communities with open data through our flagship Tactical Data Engagement (TDE) method, but, inevitably, most engagement methods for open data attract data users with experience reading or using data on their own. What about those residents without experience using open data? Every … Read moreThinking outside the box on data users – engaging non-technical audiences in open data work
This week, a whistleblower complaint involving President Donald Trump comes to light, an emoluments lawsuit is revived and the fight for access to the president’s taxes continues. Whistleblower Complaint According to CNN, “a communication between President Donald Trump and a foreign leader prompted a whistleblower complaint that is now at the center of a dispute … Read moreThis Week in Conflicts: A Whistleblower Complaint, the Fight for Trump’s Taxes and an Emoluments Lawsuit Revived
Editor’s note: Due to a staffing change, this will be the last edition of the Today in OpenGov newsletter for a little while as we take some time to reorient and consider format tweaks. Thank you for your continued readership and stay tuned for more soon! In today’s edition, the marijuana industry grows campaign cash, … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Bye M’Friend, Goodbye
In today’s edition, charities and PACs can make fundraisers rich, gun rights groups try to fill the spending gap left by a weakened NRA, Vice President Pence spent almost $600,000 for ground transportation on his Ireland trip, and more. washington watch Image credit: USDA/Lance Cheung. The EPA won’t edit a blog post because they claim … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Transportation costs
In today’s edition, some wealthy donors are spending big money to fight anti-poverty programs, 2 former FEMA officials were charged with bribery and fraud, the latest conflicts from the Trump administration, and more. washington watch Image via Sludge. The wealthy donors spending to limit access to anti-poverty programs. “Last December, an innocuously named nonprofit, the Foundation … Read moreToday in OpenGov: High risk
This week, new investigations connected to three of President Donald Trump’s resorts and NOAA is investigating whether it violated its own ethics while backing the president’s false Hurrican Dorian claim. Military Spending at Trump’s Scottish Resort According to Politico, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating whether increased military spending at President Trump’s Scotland resort … Read moreThis Week in Conflicts: Investigations Into Military Spending at Turnberry, Pence’s Stay at Doonbeg and the Pitch to Hold the Next G7 Summit at Doral
In today’s edition, Democrats stop burning oil industry cash, President Trump claims he’ll release personal financial details, Oregon’s public records czar abruptly resigns, and more. washington watch Image via OpenSecrets. 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls’ rejection of fossil fuel money marks break from the past. “The oil and gas industry has always favored Republican candidates over … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Enhancements
In today’s edition, the FEC may be without a quorum for the foreseeable future, military personnel stayed at President Trump’s Scottish property while waiting for their plane to refuel, Connecticut’s CDO stepped down, and more. washington watch Federal court reverses course, expands power to push government agencies to post information online. “In a decision … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Take a look
In today’s edition, Congress has a plan to end surprise hospital bills, California’s insurance commissioner has a rent problem, ICE’s online detainee locator has some technical issues, and more. washington watch Image via Pixabay. Congress wants to kill off huge, surprise medical bills. These lobbyists have a different idea. “Congress is trying to fix one … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Surprise!
Source: Wikimedia Commons As the Trump administration ramps up arrests of undocumented immigrants, the number of individuals incarcerated on immigration charges has increased nearly 40 percent since 2016, to a record-high daily average of more than 54,000. But even as the need to keep tabs on those being held in the system has never been … Read moreICE Online Detainee Locator Plagued by Problems, Attorneys Say
In today’s edition, Joe Biden’s lobbyist friends, state lawmakers’ Disney vacation, President Trump’s oil and gas fundraising, and more. washington watch Image via Pixabay. Joe Biden has been fundraising from lobbyists despite a pledge not to. “Joe Biden entered the Democratic primary promising “from day one” to reject campaign cash from lobbyists…Yet hours after his … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Guess who’s going to Disney World?
In today’s edition, a new neighborhood crime data initiative launches, annual agency FOIA reports are released, Mike Pence goes out of his way to stay at a Trump property in Ireland, and more. states and cities Via Sunlight Foundation. Learn how to incorporate user testing into your open data projects. “User testing is used in … Read moreToday in OpenGov: That’s quite a commute
If you’re creating something that you want people to use, it’s critical to design around the needs of users — based on user research — and test with real people to gauge success. User testing is used in the private sector to understand the consumers of a specific product. It’s even more important in the … Read moreLearn how to incorporate user testing into open data projects
In today’s edition, the Federalist Society’s claims that they don’t advocate ring hollow, a Nigerian journalist is charged with treason over corruption reporting, this Trump tax break that was supposed to help poor communities has been a windfall for his rich friends, and more. washington watch Image via the National Parks Service. The Federalist Society … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Advocates
This week, a report breaks down President Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest, Donald Trump Jr. dismisses the possibility of a conflict of interest as the Trump Organization continues with its plan for developments in Indonesia and the President is allowed to appeal one of the emoluments lawsuits against him. Pro-Trump Super Pac and the Trump … Read moreThis Week in Conflicts: Trump Can Appeal Emoluments Lawsuit and Trump Jr. Dismisses Conflict of Interest Concerns Related to Trump Org. Indonesia Project
In today’s edition, exploring the Department of Justice’s secret body of law, clearing criminal records with technology in Illinois, breaking down the DOJ IG’s review of James Comey, and more. washington watch Image via Pixabay. The Department of Justice controls a whole category of secret law. How long can it stay that way? “…it turns out … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Can you keep a secret (law)?
In today’s edition, Tom Steyer appears to have lost a big bet, House Democrats turn their eye towards President Trump’s G7 dream, Mexican journalists face danger, and more. washington watch Image via Pixabay. The FEC will probably be without a quorum for a while, but rule breakers won’t be able to operate completely without oversight. … Read moreToday in OpenGov: The billionaire’s gambit
In today’s edition, dark money rises early in a key Senate race, President Trump wages an unprecedented war against oversight, Virginia expands its anti-opioid data-sharing platform, and more. washington watch Image credit: torbakhopper. Tom Steyer is spending millions to question money in politics and try to buy a spot in the Democratic 2020 presidential debates. … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Unprecedented
In today’s edition, we explore impact evaluation for civic tech, the FEC loses its quorum with the resignation of its vice chair, President Trump tries to drum up some official business for his Florida golf club, and more. states and cities A simple civic tech evaluation canvas. Via Sunlight Foundation. Exploring the issue of impact … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Official business
As open government and civic tech movements seek to understand how our work affects social inequalities, organizations and their leaders will need more nuanced and explicit ways to communicate how government reforms that use tech and data can generate impact. Currently, civic tech and open government organizations default to measuring quantitative outputs like “number of … Read moreIs there a good way to evaluate the impact of civic tech?
In today’s edition, we launch a guide to help co-design local open data initiatives, we also try to wrangle the Wild West of federal government websites, a lawsuit aims to open up old Office of Legal Counsel documents, and more. states and cities Image credit: Roberta Tassi. This new guide will help you co-design local … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Baffling
Image credit: Roberta Tassi If open data programs hope to effectively deliver information to the public, they must be rooted in user needs. In addition to conducting user research, governments can help make this a reality by using co-design methods. “Co-design” refers to a participatory approach to designing solutions, in which community members are treated … Read moreIntroducing a guide to co-design for local open data programs
Sunlight Fellow Reflects on his Summer Wrangling Federal Websites at the Web Integrity Project Over the course of this summer, I joined the WIP team and ventured into the Wild West, otherwise known to the unwary user as the realm of federal government websites. As part of my research on LGBTQ-related webpage changes since the … Read moreNavigating the Wild West of the Federal Web: One Cowboy’s Reflections
The diffuse and disorganized nature of the federal government web allows broken links and outdated content to abound, while doing little to prevent politically motivated changes to content. A screenshot of the International Boundary and Water Commission website homepage. In 2019, millions of people will use federal government websites to sign up for healthcare coverage, … Read moreIntroducing the Wild West of Federal Government Websites
Cities from coast to coast are grappling with major challenges in providing safe and adequate housing for their residents, as developers continue to build in luxury condominiums and affordable options dwindle. In the face of this struggle, civic hackers and housing advocates use open data to collaborate to develop tools to protect renters’ rights and … Read moreOwnership, evictions, and violations: an overview of housing data use cases
Local governments are often ambitious when it comes to innovating around open data and civic technology — they envision highly developed tools and open data products that will change the way communities solve problems. But sometimes open data projects fall flat because of any number of challenges: data isn’t usable, data is hard for users … Read moreAn open data maturity scale for cities to find right-sized solutions
A naturalization ceremony is held at the Grand Canyon in 2010. NPS Photo by Michael Quinn USCIS replaces an overloaded online system with an overloaded phone system A new appointment system launched by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is leading to unnecessary complications, immigration attorneys told the Web Integrity Project. Rolled out rapidly … Read moreNew InfoMod Appointment System Creates Confusion and Delay for Immigrants and Attorneys
Editor’s note: Today’s edition will be the last until August 26th. See you later this month! In today’s edition, the Pentagon IG launches a probe, outside money floods into a North Carolina Congressional re-run, the impact of community engagement with open data is measured, and more. Today in OpenGov Residents gather for a community meeting. … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Conflicting information