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In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]
News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. OpenTheGovernment.org Prepares to Launch BailoutWatch.net
II. Senate Panel Passes Presidential Records Act Reform Bill
III.OpenTheGovernment.org's Director Speaks to State Partners
IV. OpenTheGovernment.org Participates in Gov2.0 Camp
On Tuesday, April 14 from 3-5 pm, USAID and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will host Open Innovation for Government at CSIS (1800 K St., NW). The event features a panel discussion of open government champions from federal agencies on President Obama's call for an "Open Government Directive" that moves the federal government towards being more collaborative, transparent, and participatory. Please send RSVPs to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the ongoing conversation about how to meet the goal of opening the federal government by joining OpenTheGovernment.org's OpenGovernmementDirective Google Group.
On April 1, OpenTheGovernment.org joined several coalition partners in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to fulfill his campaign and transition policy commitments to strengthen whistleblower rights to effectively fight waste, fraud and abuse in unprecedented government spending. The letter was organized by the Make it Safe Coalition (MISC); signatories included our coalition partners: Government Accountability Project (GAP), Liberty Coalition, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), and Public Citizen.
The Center for Responsive Politics continues to add useful data and functionalities to OpenSecrets.org, making lobbyists disclosures more transparent and useful. In the latest upgrade, the organization announced users can track the number of lobbyists that reported lobbying on a particular piece of legislation, back to 2005, using the bills name, description, or number. Information about what pieces of legislation lobbyists are working on has also been added to each client and firm profile.
The Virginia Coalition for Open Government (VCOG) is seeking nominations for its annual Freedom of Information Awards. The awards are given in three categories: citizen, media, and government. They are based upon the nominee's outstanding efforts in using public records and meetings to keep government open and accountable to the people. To nominate someone, please see the instructions at www.opengovva.org. The deadline for nominations is August 1; winners will be announced in conjunction with the Coalition's annual conference Oct. 15-16 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton.
In the coming week, OpenTheGovernment.org will launch BailoutWatch.net. The new site, which expands on and improves the existing bailout transparency clearinghouse, is a part of the Bailout Watch Project, a collaborative effort by several nonprofit organizations to track the government's actions during the unprecedented transfer of wealth from the federal government to the financial institutions and other businesses deemed "too big to fail." The new site will feature the latest news, events, analysis, commentary, tools and more (all available via RSS feed). Other features include an "expert exchange" where transparency and economic experts from across the political spectrum will share their views on topical subjects, and a "FOIA room" where users can track freedom of information requests related to the bailout.
On April 1, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed passed a substitute in the nature of an amendment to H.R. 35, the Presidential Records Act Amendments, a bill passed by an overwhelming vote in the House earlier this year. Both the House bill and the Senate substitute revoke President Bush's Executive Order (EO) 13233, establish a deadline for review of records, limit the authority of former presidents to withhold presidential records, require the president to make privilege claims personally, and eliminate executive privilege claims for vice presidents. However, differences between the House and the Senate versions, most notably the amount of time the bill grants incumbent and former presidents to review documents intended to be realeased by the Head Archivist of the United States, need to be reconciled before the bill can become law.
On April 1, Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, participated on a panel discussing open government at the Portland Central Library, and the 2009 Oregon Library Association (OLA) Conference on April 2. She will also be traveling to Spokane, Washington to give a speech on restoring open government on April 16th during the 2009 Washington Library Association (WLA) Conference and will keynote the 6th annual First Amendment Awards and Scholarship Dinner of the Fort Worth Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on April 17 in Arlington, TX. Tickets for the awards dinner are still available; RSVP here.
On March 27 and 28 OpenTheGovernment.org participated in Gov 2.0 Camp, an "unconference" about using social media tools and Web 2.0 technologies to create a more effective, efficient and collaborative U.S. government on all levels (local, state, and federal). The event brought together leaders from the government, nonprofit, academia and industry communities and marked the launch of Government2.0 Club