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New Open-Source Tool Gives Texans Faster Access to Campaign Finance Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, August 2 2013

A Texas Tribune news apps developer has created a new open-source tool giving Texans faster access to state campaign finance data. Read More

Change.gov is Back Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 30 2013

Change.gov, a relic of President Barack Obama's first term which listed promised new directions for the federal government, is back online. It had been inaccessible for several days, prompting transparency advocates to observe that with it went a record of the Obama administration's promises on openness and to bolster protection of whistleblowers. Read More

House Publishes U.S. Code in XML

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 30 2013

The House of Representatives is now making the United States Code available for download in XML format, Speaker John Boehner's office announced today. Transparency advocates like Joshua Tauberer, creator of Govtrack, welcomed the move, but are still waiting on the publication of legislative data in bulk format. Read More

New York Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Lobbying Database

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, July 29 2013

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched a new lobbying database that the Cuomo administration and even some transparency advocates are calling the first of its kind in the United States. The Project Sunlight database provides information on meetings between government representatives and outside individuals relating to state procurement, rate-making, regulatory matters, agency-based judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, and the adoption or repeal of rules and regulations, according to a Cuomo press release. Read More

New York City Has a More Level Playing Field for Access to Real Estate Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, July 26 2013

New York City's Department of City Planning recently opened up free access to data files that link up maps of individual tax lots with financial data about those lots, following pressure from transparency advocates and media coverage. The data merges together information like owner name, assessed value and even details like floor-to-area ratio, a function of how tall a building is and how big a lot it sits on, which is a useful index of building density. (An area with zoning rules that allow for high FAR is an area that will have more, taller, buildings.) Read More

Michelle Obama's Name Loaned to DNC in its First Use of OFA Email List

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, July 25 2013

The Democratic National Committee directly reached out to Obama for America supporters with emails sent early this week in what appears to be the first time the full, storied Obama email list has been pressed into service by the DNC, at least since the end of the 2012 campaign. Some recipients saw emails sent on the DNC's behalf with First Lady Michelle Obama's name in the "Sender" field. Read More

How Much Did Anonymous Really Get From Congressional Staffers?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 23 2013

A recent release of email address and password combinations apparently used by congressional staffers to manage mass emails to constituents raises concerns about security, but likely won't lead to much change in the use of third-party services by members of Congress, according to Brad Fitch, president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. People claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous announced last week that they had obtained and released emails and passwords for 2,000 congressional staffers in a move designed to attract attention to their displeasure over online surveillance by the National Security Agency. But the passwords were not paired up with email address when they were released, rendering them of less use to actually breach security, and The Hill reports that they appeared to be login information for the widely used iConstituent email newsletter service. Read More

With Kickstarter Funding, FOIA Machine Wants to Help Fix Public Records

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, July 19 2013

(Kickstarter)

FOIA Machine, a platform that aims to streamline the process of tracking of filing and tracking public record requests, has raised more than $29,000 on Kickstarter — exceeding its funding goal by more than $10,000. Read More

What If Writing State Legislation Worked Like Writing Open-Source Code?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, July 11 2013

The OpenGov Foundation is receiving $200,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to help bring a crowdsourcing platform for comments on legislation to state and local legislatures. Read More

German Lawmakers Have a New Platform For Their Policies — SimCity

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, July 11 2013

(Facebook/SimCity)

Three German lawmakers may differ when it comes to policy positions, but all of them enjoy computer games. In the run-up to the German national election in September, Electronic Arts has arranged for three German members of the Bundestag to play the German edition of SimCity and will feature their progress online over four weeks. Read More

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In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

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