More than half a trillion dollars of government spending is drafted and voted on by the Senate Armed Services Committee, almost entirely in secret. Forty-nine organizations including OpenTheGovernment.org joined the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) in its call for Congress to shine a greater light on the National Defense Authorization Act. Sign POGO’s petition here.
The Sunlight Foundation, Global Integrity, and Electoral Integrity Project have teamed up to launch the Money, Politics and Transparency Project. The project aims to create a network of stakeholders dedicated to improving accountability and combatting corruption through political finance transparency.
Forty-one groups joined Free Press in a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler supporting net neutrality. The FCC must reclassify broadband access services as telecommunications services to ensure no government or corporate authority can hamper the public’s ability to access and publish information freely. Loss of net neutrality could lead to providers making it more difficult for users to get information from or to communicate with government.
In January, President Obama tasked the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology with reviewing the government’s use of big data and its impacts on privacy. John Podesta, a counselor to the President, described the aims of the review in a White House blog post. The White House review is necessary but should include transparency, oversight and accountability requirements in its final report. Sixteen groups joined the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s letter asking that, among other requirements, the study require entities that collect personal information be transparent about their collection and storage methods. Read the letter here.
The Open Government Partnership is an international platform that requires member countries to develop national action plans to make progress on open government initiatives. Government officials must collaborate with civil society organizations (CSO) to develop and implement the plans. OpenTheGovernment.org helps coordinate civil society’s engagement in and evaluation of the implementation of the US National Action Plans.
As with our work on evaluating the Administration’s first US National Action Plan, OTG is forming teams of individuals from civil society organizations interested in: working with the agencies on implementation; providing feedback on the work; and evaluating the implementation of specific commitments. Teams will work together, in coordination with OTG, to put together an evaluation similar to the first CSO evaluation and to publish several check-ins along the way. Our full evaluation schedule is available here.
Please contact apaulson[at]openthegovernment.org if you would like to be a member of a team or have any questions about participating in the civil society evaluation process.
OTG also regularly shares its experiences engaging in the OGP process with other international civil society groups and governments. Executive Director Patrice McDermott spent a week in Jakarta meeting with Indonesian civil society organizations, officials in the Government of Indonesia, and business leaders. Talks centered around sharing ideas for making governments open and accountable to the public, how to broaden public engagement in the Open Government P artnership, and how to measure and evaluate the effectiveness and importance of our governments’ commitments. Indonesia is the current co-chair of the Open Government Partnership.
OTG is pleased to welcome Food and Water Watch (FWW), the New England First Amendment Center (NEFAC), and the Rural Coalition to the OpenTheGovernment.org coalition. FWW advocates for common-sense policies that support healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable drinking water. Learn more about their work here. The New England First Amendment Center defends, promotes, and expands the public’s right to know in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Learn more about their work here. The Rural Coalition advocates for farmers, ranchers, farmworkers, and rural communities in the United States in support of a more just and sustainable food system. Learn more about the coalition’s work here.
On May 8th, OTG will celebrate ten years of working to make the government more open. The celebration will be held at the Stewart R. Mott House from 6pm to 8pm. We invite you– our partners, colleagues and friends– to join with us in the celebration. Please RSVP to apaulson[at]openthegovernment.org no later than April 24th if you plan to attend.
Each Friday leading up to our celebration, we will post clips of our founders and supporters reflecting on OTG’s past. Don’t miss the first two here.