In conjunction with the launch of Data.gov, the Sunlight Foundation announced the launch of Apps for America 2: the data.gov challenge. The contest, held alongside alongside Google, O’Reilly Media, and TechWeb, challenges developers to use any one of the data sources or content to design a compelling application that provides easy access and understanding for the public. Winners will be announced at the Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase.
AccountableRecovery.org is the new internet home of States for an Accountable Recovery (STAR Coalition), a network of groups working at the state and local levels to ensure that the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is transparent, accountable, fair and effective. The STAR Coalition counts many OpenTheGovernment.org partners as members, including Common Cause, OMB Watch and U.S. PIRG. The STAR Coalition actively coordinates with the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery, of which OpenTheGovernment.org and several coalition partners are members.
David Cuillier, chairman of the national Freedom of Information (FOI) committee for the Society of Professional Journalists, took first place in the national "Promising Professor" faculty competition run by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). He will be honored at AEJMC’s national conference Aug. 5-8 in Boston, MA.
Last week the Obama administration launched a process to gather public input on recommendations for the Open Government Directive. Many aspects of this process accord with requests made in a letter sent prior to the Federal Register announcement and singed by OpenTheGovernment.org and several coalition partners. It is encouraging the administration is using innovative methods to create policy in a transparent, collaborative, and participatory manner, but serious questions, including if and when all comments gathered during the process will be publicly available, remain. Join the on-going discussion about the process on the OpenGovernmentDirective Google group.
On May 26th President Obama issued a Memorandum on Classified Information and Controlled Unclassified Information directing his administration to complete a review of the classification system and a review of procedures for controlled unclassified information (CUI), commonly known as sensitive but unclassified (SBU) information. The memo does not lay out a system for gathering public input during these reviews, but we are hopeful an administration committed to "transparency, participation, and collaboration," will not leave the public out of this process. The review of the classification system is a particularly welcome initiative and we hope is the beginning of a process that will reduce unneeded government secrecy. We are disappointed the President’s memo does not call for a similar thorough review of CUI. We have previously indicated concerns with the CUI framework, which was announced by President Bush in May 2008 with no opportunity for public participation, including that the framework creates no process or incentives to reduce the use of markings and sets up no process for removing markings once the information is no longer sensitive. The Obama memo likewise does not make such concerns part of the review process. A complete review and assessment of the need for and utility of SBU markings is essential to rein in, and not just organize, their use throughout government.
In December 2008, as required by the OPEN Government Act, the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released a report regarding personnel policies for FOIA professionals. Tomorrow OpenTheGovernment.org will send a letter signed by several coalition partners requesting OPM revise the report in light of the new administration’s commitment to transparency. In particular, the letter urges OPM to gather additional input from the key stakeholders, including a range of agencies and professional societies, before making any further recommendations. Once the letter is sent out, it will be available on our website here.