Announcing Technology for Integrity, a US-Russia Exchange Program

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

New Report Reveals Trends in Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Unaccompanied Children Website

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

When public consultations & comments go awry

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

Thinking outside the box on data users – engaging non-technical audiences in open data work

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 in Conflicts: A Whistleblower Complaint, the Fight for Trump’s Taxes and an Emoluments Lawsuit Revived

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

Today in OpenGov: Bye M’Friend, Goodbye

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

Today in OpenGov: Transportation costs

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

Today in OpenGov: High risk

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 in Conflicts: Investigations Into Military Spending at Turnberry, Pence’s Stay at Doonbeg and the Pitch to Hold the Next G7 Summit at Doral

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

Today in OpenGov: Enhancements

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

Today in OpenGov: Take a look

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

Today in OpenGov: Surprise!

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!

ICE Online Detainee Locator Plagued by Problems, Attorneys Say

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

Today in OpenGov: Guess who’s going to Disney World?

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?

Today in OpenGov: That’s quite a commute

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

Learn how to incorporate user testing into open data projects

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

Today in OpenGov: Advocates

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 in Conflicts: Trump Can Appeal Emoluments Lawsuit and Trump Jr. Dismisses Conflict of Interest Concerns Related to Trump Org. Indonesia Project

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

Today in OpenGov: Can you keep a secret (law)?

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)?

Today in OpenGov: The billionaire’s gambit

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

Today in OpenGov: Unprecedented

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

Today in OpenGov: Official business

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

Is there a good way to evaluate the impact of civic tech?

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?

Introducing a guide to co-design for local open data programs

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

Navigating the Wild West of the Federal Web: One Cowboy’s Reflections

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

Introducing the Wild West of Federal Government Websites

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

Ownership, evictions, and violations: an overview of housing data use cases

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

An open data maturity scale for cities to find right-sized solutions

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

New InfoMod Appointment System Creates Confusion and Delay for Immigrants and Attorneys

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

Today in OpenGov: Conflicting information

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

Measuring the impact of community engagement around open data

Over time, local government open data programs have evolved from publishing large quantities of open datasets, toward improving usability and impact of open data as a tool for residents to advocate for their communities. When publishing data is the priority, metrics for success (like number of datasets published) are clear and easy to track. But … Read moreMeasuring the impact of community engagement around open data

Today in OpenGov: Anonymous tips

In today’s edition, the healthcare industry launches an ad blitz against Medicare for All, the US Ambassador to Germany calls out journalists for blocking him on Twitter, flights out of Hong Kong are canceled amid ongoing protests, and more.  washington watch Image via Pixabay. The healthcare industry is targeting 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls on Medicare … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Anonymous tips

Today in OpenGov: Controversy

In today’s edition, Interior got some help on its controversial FOIA policy, New Hampshire’s governor vetoed a nonpartisan redistricting bill, President Trump’s fundraising stirs up controversy, and more.  washington watch Image credit: Opensource.com. The Interior Department turned to the FBI for help on its controversial FOIA policy. “The Interior Department took notes from the FBI, … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Controversy

Today in OpenGov: Restricted access

In today’s edition, analyzing donors to the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, supporting sound financial stewardship in cities with transparency, restricting press access in El Paso and Dayton, targeting Hong Kong’s airport with a sit in, and more.  washington watch Map visualization via OpenSecrets. These Washington, DC bars and restaurants make the most from political campaigns. … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Restricted access

Balancing the books – how transparency can support good financial stewardship in cities big & small

Jackson, MS. Photo Credit: Frederick Olson Cities are responsible for the allocation of public funds to improve infrastructure, provide key services to residents, and attract businesses and tourists. To do so effectively, governments must practice good financial stewardship of these funds to the benefit of residents. But in small cities, seemingly small oversights in the … Read moreBalancing the books – how transparency can support good financial stewardship in cities big & small

Today in OpenGov: (watchdog) days

In today’s edition, Bill de Blasio picks up a watchdog complaint, Don McGahn gets hit with a lawsuit, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis slides back through the revolving door, and more.  National Image via Pixabay. Bill de Blasio’s presidential bid benefited from an unusual arrangement and help from some major donors… “Mayor Bill de Blasio’s … Read moreToday in OpenGov: (watchdog) days

Today in OpenGov: Suit up.

In today’s edition, Massachusetts flunks its transparency exam, retiring Representatives portend expensive 2020 races, you can help federal agencies improve their FOIA processes, and more.  states and cities The Massachussets State House. Image credit: Tony Hisgett. Massachusetts earns failing grades on government transparency. “Massachusetts earns poor grades when it comes to government transparency with watchdogs … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Suit up.

Today in OpenGov: Bills, bills, bills

In today’s edition, we explore how openness is being leveraged to improve social services, the Senate votes to strengthen transition team ethics requirements, President Trump’s re-election campaign spends heavily on Facebook ads about an “invasion” at the southern border, and more.  states and cities The Department of Health and Human Services in Washington DC.  How … Read moreToday in OpenGov: Bills, bills, bills

This Week in Conflicts: Voters Sue to Stop CA Law Requiring Release of Presidential Candidate’s Tax Returns and Another Possible Hatch Act Violation 

President Donald J. Trump arrives on Air Force One to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., March 2, 2017. (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daylena S. Ricks) This week, a group of California voters is suing to block a new law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns, more allegations Kellyanne Conway … Read moreThis Week in Conflicts: Voters Sue to Stop CA Law Requiring Release of Presidential Candidate’s Tax Returns and Another Possible Hatch Act Violation