On September 17, Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) presented testimony to the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee on utilizing technology to increase transparency of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and financial oversight. According to the testimony, providing the public with direct, online access to data from complex government programs would strengthen oversight by allowing members of the media, watchdog groups, researchers and citizens to analyze the data, and hold public officials accountable.
On September 10, OMB Watch released Recovery Act Transparency: Implementation and Current Issues. The report charts progress in developing a transparent system for tracking funds from the stimulus bill and points out significant gaps in recipient reporting and performance measurement that keep the system from being fully transparent and accountable.
During the Gov2.0 Expo Showcase in DC on September 8, the Sunlight Foundation joined Google, O’Reilly Media, and TechWeb to name the winners of Apps for America 2. The contest challenged developers to use data available through data.gov to design compelling applications that provide easy access and understanding for the public, while also showing how open data can save the government tens of millions of dollars by engaging the development community in application development at far cheaper rates than traditional government contractors.
October 15 – 16, Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, will join representatives of several coalition partners as panelists at the Virginia Coalition for Open Government’s annual conference, Access 2009. During the event in Staunton, Virginia, panelists will discuss open government in Virginia and at the federal level, including sessions on transparency in the Obama administration and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Notes, materials and archived video from Congress Camp are available. During the unconference, held in Washington, DC on September 12 and 13, OpenTheGovernment.org joined Congressional staffers, tech and social media entrepreneurs, advocacy leaders, and interested citizens to discuss how web-based social and collaboration technologies are being used, or could be used, to transform engagement with the public and make Congress more transparent.
On September 17, legislation to reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act and other surveillance authorities, the Judiciously Using Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act, S. 1686, was introduced in the Senate. The bill addresses several areas where government secrecy has led to intrusions in privacy by requiring more openness. Importantly, the bill requires the minimization of information collected and saved, the creation of a database to track National Security Letters (NSLs), more detailed congressional reporting on the use of NSLs, and increased public reporting on the use of FISA. Coalition partner, the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), has released a comprehensive Policy Post that provides an overview and suggested reforms of expiring PATRIOT Act provisions, provides a rationale for Congress to reform NSL authorities, and analyzes the legislative landscape.