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Teacamp: Where British Civil Servants Go to Brew Change From Within

BY Wendy M. Grossman | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Sir Nigel Hawthorne, the star of "Yes, Minister," having a cup of tea.

After years where even the hint of blogging might get a British civil servant fired, in the last few years, things have begun to open up. One manifestation of the change is a regular gathering of a hundred or more civil servants known as "teacamp," which brings together like-minded staff from across the British government to compare notes and share ideas on how they are using social media and open data to change their relationship to the general public. Longtime tech writer Wendy Grossman reports on the scene, and asks just how much it is actually a sign of real change. Read More

Some White House Petitions Are Still Unanswered More Than a Year After Earning a Response [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 13 2013

Since the launch of the White House's "We the People" e-petition site, 232 petitions have met their signature thresholds, which are supposed to trigger an official response from the administration. So far, 202 of those have been responded to, in an average of 61 days. Of the 30 unanswered petitions, the average wait time is a whopping 240 days, or eight months. These delightful facts have been surfaced by Eli Dourado, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University. He built his new transparency site, WHPetitions.info, "because the list of successful petitions that are awaiting a reply seems like a glaring omission from the We The People site." Read More

First POST: Commandeered

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, August 13 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribersThe inside story of how Edward Snowden won Laura Poitras' trust; reconciling open data with the NSA scandal; the new Pew research on where people go to get their news; and much, much more. Read More

New Study Looks Under Hood of Boston's New Urban Mechanics

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, August 9 2013

Boston’s office of New Urban Mechanics is a model for other cities looking to provide more and better service with less cash. By taking advantage of mobile technologies, bridging long siloed departments, and engaging civic minded tech entrepreneurs and academics, the department, under the direction of Mayor Thomas Menino has had its hand in an array of projects in the past years, from figuring out how to repurpose 19th century fire boxes for the digital age, to testing online games to inform city planning. A list of projects doesn’t really get at what actually makes New Urban Mechanics tick but a new case study from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society just might. Read More

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

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

Knight Moves Beyond Experimentation with Open Gov News Challenge Winners

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, June 25 2013

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to eight Open Government projects has part of the Knight News Challenge, including tools that would make courts more accessible and the procurement process more user friendly. Six additional projects received funding through the Knight Prototype Fund, which awards up to $50,000 for projects to go from an idea to a demo stage. Read More