Policy and News Updates for May 5, 2009


News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. OpenTheGovernment.org Participates in Americas Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information

II. Senate Resolution to Open Access to CRS Reports Introduced

III. OpenTheGovernment.org’s Director Offers Assessment of Administration’s Open Government Initiatives

IV. Library of Congress Offers RSS Feeds
 

News from Coalition Partners & Others

 

POGO Updates Contractor Misconduct Database

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) recently updated the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD) with a new top 100 ranking based on fiscal year (FY) 2007 contract data. Congress mandated the creation of a similar database to monitor companies that have faced criminal and civil actions in the 2009 Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill. However, POGO’s database continues to be the only public source of this information since Congress declined to make the new database created with taxpayer funding available to the public.

 

Coalition Partners Launch New Effort to Amend Patriot Act

The Campaign for Reader Privacy, an effort to restore the reader privacy safeguards that were stripped away by the USA Patriot Act, launched the latest phase in their five-year campaign. Members of the Campaign, which includes OpenTheGovernment.org members the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center, have released a Congressional memo, "Restoring the Safeguards for Reader Privacy."

 

Sunlight Foundation Announces ‘Apps for America’ Winners

On April 20, the Sunlight Foundation announced the winners of Sunlight Labs’ ‘Apps for America’ contest. ‘Apps for America’ challenged the public to use technology and government data to makes Congress more accountable, interactive and transparent.

 

I. OpenTheGovernment.org Participates in Americas Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information

In Lima, Peru from April 28 to 30, Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org joined journalists, government workers, and representatives of non-governmental organizations from 18 countries in the Americas at the Americas Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information. During the conference, which was organized by the Carter Center, with collaboration by the Organization of American States, Comisión Andina de Juristas, and the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, participants developed the soon-to-be-released "Regional Action Plan to Advance the Right to Access Information." Dr. McDermott said the opportunity to learn from the experience of people dealing with the same basic set of issues in a wide variety of social, economic, and political atmospheres was "valuable and instructive." She continued, "Some countries pass right to access information laws in response to corruption, some as a part of a human rights movement: the emphasis of the laws and problems with implementation differ according to the motivating force. In the end, though, we all agree that access to information is a powerful force to improve lives.

II. Senate Resolution to Open Access to CRS Reports Introduced

On April 30, Senator Joe Lieberman reintroduced a resolution to put reports from the taxpayer-funded Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports online. The resolution, S.Res.118, already enjoys bipartisan support, and is improved over the version of the bill introduced during previous sessions of Congress. Importantly, S.Res.118 makes it easy for Members to share reports with the public by allowing them to use the same online services that are available on Congress’ internal CRS website, and requires that an index of CRS issue briefs and reports to be made public. OpenTheGovernment.org’s recent report with the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), " Show Us the Data: Most Wanted Federal Documents" identified CRS reports as the number one most desired government document by the public.

 

III. OpenTheGovernment.org’s Director Offers Assessment of Administration’s Open Government Initiatives

Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org contributed an assessment of the Obama Administration open government initiatives during its first 100 days to "Thirsting for Change: Obama’s First 100 Days," an effort organized by the Institute for Policy Studies to "grade" the Obama Administration’s actions on a range of critical domestic and foreign policies by experts in the field. Quite a few coalition partners, and others concerned with transparency in the federal government, produced 100 day assessments of the new Administration; visit OpenTheGovernment.org’s collection of those assessments here.

 

IV. Library of Congress Offers RSS Feeds

The Library of Congress (LOC) has begun offering a variety of RSS feeds, including a feed for the THOMAS: Daily Digest, a concise summary of the day’s congressional activity. LOC feeds consist of headline, brief summary, and a link that leads back to the Library’s Web site for more information. By delivering this information directly to subscribers’ desktops, the RSS feed makes it easier for to follow what is going on in Congress.

 

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