Steering Committee Notes, 10/19/11

 

OpenTheGovernment.org Steering Committee Meeting
2040 S St. NW, Bauman Conference Room
October 19, 2011 12 – 2pm

Participants: Gary Bass, Lynne Bradley, Danielle Brian, Lucy Dalglish, Kevin Goldberg, Conrad Martin, Katherine McFate, Sean Moulton, David Sobel, Anne Weismann, Patrice McDermott, and Amy Bennett.

Financials

  • We are over budget on consultants because we paid our summer intern and on supplies because of unplanned technology purchases (computers and software). The technology purchases free us from expense of renting equipment from OMB Watch. We have sufficient padding in other accounts to cover over-runs.
  • The coalition is doing well financially, though we do need to find new funding to cover some of 2012.
  • The coalition needs to bring on new staff. We should consider beginning the position as a contract position until we are sure we can add it to our budget permanently. Discussion of the need for a third employee should be added to funding proposals.
  • The budget was approved by the Committee.

Payroll, Physical Location

  • Payroll was moved to the Fund for Constitutional Government on October 1. The coalition will be moving into the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) in December or January.
  • As the coalition will need new letterhead, cards, etc. after move, the coalition should look into getting a new logo.

Discussion on the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Next Steps

  • We need to act quickly to make sure our priorities that are included in the US National Action Plan are implemented.
  • As the civil society engagement coordinator, the coalition will also set up a meeting with the group of people at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) who have managed the OGP to discuss next steps on implementation on the on-going engagement process.
  • The coalition plans to work with academics to monitor and evaluate the Administration’s implementation of the National Action Plan (similar to our evaluations of agencies’ Open Government Plans). We will engage a wider community of academics in this process.

Executive Order (EO) on National Security

  • The EO clearly reflects our input regarding the necessity to protect civil liberties and privacy and to support whistleblowers rights; it is far from perfect though. Once the new bodies created by the EO to develop and implement new policies are formed, we should meet with them to make our case for the importance of reducing overclassification to improving security and reemphasize the need to protect civil liberties and privacy.

White House Visitor Logs

  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to maintain the Bush-era position that White House visitor logs, despite being created and maintained by the Secret Service, are Presidential records and, therefore, not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Recently DOJ filed notice it intends to appeal a District Court ruling rejecting the argument. This is a clearly anti-transparency stance.

SaferProducts.gov

  • An anonymous company has filed suit to stop the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to stop them from putting complaints about their products on saferproducts.gov. The agency is fighting back, and is planning to file suit to have the case unsealed. This is an example of an agency doing the right thing in terms of transparency.

 


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