– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– DATA Act Sent to President Obama (more)
– Coming Soon: An Open Government Town Hall (more)
– Opportunities to Share Your Open Government Ideas With Federal Agencies (more)
In September 2013, The Guardian, New York Times, and ProPublica jointly revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had exerted its influence to weaken the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) cryptographic standards. This month, the NIST removed a number generating algorithm from its publications following suspicions of that the NSA created a backdoor into the algorithm.
NIST published a draft document in February 2014 outlining the development process for cryptographic standards and guidelines. In response to this draft, 11 groups, including OpenTheGovernment, joined Access to urge NIST to implement “a more transparent, accountable process for standards development.” Greater transparency would, among other benefits, shine a light on the NSA’s influence in the development of standards. The letter is available here.
The Sunlight Foundation, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and more than 100 hackers are partnering on github to break down the barriers to the public’s online communications with Congress—contact forms, captchas, zip code requirements, and more. The organizations and participants in github’s @unitedstates organization to streamline public access to Congress online. Learn more and get involved here.
“Company Doe” sued the Consumer Product Safety Commission in October 2011 to block the agency from posting a complaint about one of its products in the public complaint database. The case was conducted in secret, and the court ruling kept the complaint from being posted publicly. Public Citizen partnered with the Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union sued to unmask the company and open up the court proceedings. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the district court to unseal the case and reveal the identity of Company Doe. Learn more about the victory’s implications at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ blog here.
On Monday, April 28th, the House of Representatives passed the DATA Act. The Senate passed the same version of the bill earlier this month. The act, if signed into law, will create uniform standards for federal spending data and allow the government and public to more easily track spending across government. Learn more about the bill from the Sunlight Foundation and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
In late May, OpenTheGovernment.org will host its second town hall. Our first focused on planning for Sunshine Week. This program will include a presentation of a useful tool for the community or discussion on open government issues in the news. After Q&A, we will open up the floor for groups to share updates about their work, projects, and initiatives.
1) Join the new list serv we are co-moderating with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to participate in discussions as agencies put together new versions of their open government plans.
2) Outside stakeholders also will be able to participate in next month’s meeting of the Administration’s Open Government Working Group (a group of high-level officials that have been meeting regularly for several years) In December, the Administration committed to making these meetings open on a quarterly basis.
3) There might also be opportunities to give feedback on particular agency plans in the next few weeks. Interested in how you can help push agencies to be more open, participatory and collaborative? Contact Amy Bennett (abennett[at]openthegovernment.org) if you are interested in attending and sharing your ideas for more open agencies.