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The Demand for Transparency on Trade Negotiation: What the public needs to know about the TPP

By Patrice McDermott & Jesse Franzblau*
The President’s pledge issued on his first day of office to usher in a “new era of openness” stands in stark contrast to his Administration’s secretive approach to trade negotiations. Most alarmingly, the public has been denied critically important information on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations while representatives from over 500 business interests have had direct access to the texts and the ability to influence the agreement.

Agencies Need to Jumpstart Efforts to Meet Foreign Aid Transparency Deadlines

The United States is the largest single provider of foreign assistance, but the majority of US government donors still fail to publish data in a timely and detailed manner.

Pushing for Results Using the Open Government Partnership

Last week, the World Justice Project published the Open Government Index, an examination and ranking of governments’ openness. Notably, the index used public surveys to and “in-country expert questionnaires” to score countries. It’s an interesting approach. After all, the theoretical strength of the Freedom of Information Act matters little if the public does not find it to be an effective, useful tool. On the Open Government Partnership blog, WJP’s Alejandro Ponce uses the Index data to illustrate that “OGP participation indeed linked to more transparent, participatory, and accountable government in practice.”

Supreme Court Has a Responsibility to Open Up

Describing the US Federal Courts’ approach to technology, Chief Justice John G. Roberts invoked the Supreme Court building’s engraving that illustrates the fable of the tortoise and the hare. In the 2014 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, Roberts defended the judiciary’s slow adoption of modern technology, citing funding, cybersecurity concerns, and equality of access. “Unlike commercial enterprises,” Roberts notes, “the courts cannot decide to serve only the most technically-capable or well-equipped segments of the public.” It’s a worthy but bewildering concern from a court that restricts access to its history-making arguments to approximately 50 members of public.

Civil Society Groups Issue One-Year Progress Report on 2014-2015 US National Action Plan

According to the second civil society progress report on the implementation of the United States' Second National Action Plan, the US government remains on-course to meet the majority of its commitments one year into the two-year implementation period.

Commitment Analysis: Big Data Openness and Accountability in the Second National Action Plan

The following analysis is from Khaliah Barnes, Director of the Student Privacy Project and Administrative Law Counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

The Obama Administration’s Second Open Government National Action Plan aims to “use big data to support greater openness and accountability.” The Administration has committed to:

  • Enhance sharing of best practices on data privacy for state and local law enforcement;
  • Ensure privacy protection for big data analyses in health; and
  • Expand technical expertise in government to stop discrimination.

OTG Colleagues Make the Case for Transparency

This month, the Brookings Center for Effective Public Management published “Why Critics of Transparency Are Wrong,” an article debunking myths about transparency in government. The piece, written by the Project On Government Oversight’s Danielle Brian, the Bauman Foundation’s Gary D.

Office of Special Counsel Releases Open Government Plan; Some Required Plans Still Missing

Although it was not required to do so under the Open Government Directive, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently released its open government plan, spotlighting an initiative to prevent employer retaliation against whistleblowers.

Players or Spectators: Observations on CSO Participation in the OGP was pleased to host Al Kags as a Mandela Washington Fellow this summer. Mr. Kags is the founder of the Open Institute, a "think-do tank" that collaborates with governments and civil society groups on open government issues.

In partnership with OTG, Mr.Kags and the Open Institute present an insightful analysis of the role of civil society in the Open Government Partnership. In addition to observations drawn from conversations with government officials and civil society representatives from several OGP countries, the report features recommendations for improving CSO participation.

Time to Open Up Party Conference and Caucus Rules

Twenty-five groups dedicated to openness and accountability asked the leaders of Congressional party caucuses and conferences to post their rules online. Public access to these rules would provide essential information about how Congress governs—how legislation leaves chambers, who may lead committees, and more.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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