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Obama Administration Falling Behind In Freedom of Information Requests, Senators Charge

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, March 13 2013

The leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday expressed frustration with the Obama administration's inability to comply with a 2007 open government law that Congress enacted to speed up the processing of Freedom of Information Act requests. Advocates say that if the administration wants to get serious about improving its record on access to information, it should apply the tech savvy that has become a hallmark of the Obama brand. Read More

Two Civic Hackers On Why Open Government Isn't That Hard

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, February 13 2013

Civic hacking — using technology to improve or subvert anything that's wrong, broken, or just not good enough about the way politics and government work — is hard. It can be frustrating. But it's often also fun, two civic hackers told me today, and just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Read More

In Germany, Pursuit of Plagiarism Now Extends to Lawmakers Lifting Words from Lobbyists

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, February 12 2013

German freelance journalist, TV moderator and blogger Richard Gutjahr worked together with Open Data City, a team of journalistic open data designers, to create LobbyPlag, a platform that examines similarities between proposals by lobbyists and amendments to the General Data Protection Regulation proposed by EU Committee members. Read More

WeGov

CivicOpen: New Name, Old Idea

BY David Eaves | Monday, February 11 2013

Here are a few things open government advocates should remember if they don't want their open-source efforts to repeat past failures. Read More

Open Docket, an Open Government Tool for Small Towns and Cities

BY Sam Roudman | Monday, February 4 2013

In small towns, getting civic information can be a mess. Figuring out the history or status of a request for a new stop sign can require a slog through weeks or months of PDF files of meeting agendas, minutes, and reports. Is the information public? Yes. Is it accessible? No. Sean Roche lives in Newton, Mass., population 85,000, and he's hoping to solve that with Open Docket, an open-source project he's launched to provide a better way to track the lawmaking goings-on of small cities and towns.

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WeGov

Israeli Transparency NGO Shows Voters How to Cast Informed Ballots

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, January 3 2013

Screengrab from Open Knesset website

As Israelis prepare to cast their ballots in national elections on January 22, the country's only transparency NGO has launched a campaign to encourage voters to educate themselves by consulting their Open Knesset website, where they can find previously unavailable information about how their legislators are doing their jobs and whether they are representing their constituents as they would wish to be represented. Read More

WeGov

Dashboard Government: The Politics of Measurement

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, November 28 2012

The other week I was informed that the city of Edmonton, Alberta, published an online dashboard of various metrics that it hopes will both educate residents about the city's services. As more and more of what governments do — from running buses to fixing potholes to processing paper — is managed by computers, there is an ever-increasing capacity to measure, and make public, the results of any given activity. The opportunity to create more accountable systems and governments is real. If we are going to end up with government dashboards all over the place — and frankly, I hope we do — dashboard-makers had better do a bunch of things right. Read More

What is "New Urban Mechanics" and Why Does Philadelphia Want Some?

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 3 2012

When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced on Monday that Philadelphia will get a new arm of city government called the Office of New Urban Mechanics, he was signing on to a sizable experiment in how government is supposed to work.

Nutter's administration is emulating a program Boston City Hall put in place two years ago to find innovative — you might also say "untested" — ideas and see if they can make government work better. The Boston Office of New Urban Mechanics is just a handful of people led by Nigel Jacob, a former programmer, and Chris Osgood, a city official who came to Boston after a stint at New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation. Their job is to help those new solutions to old problems navigate the often tricky hallways of city bureaucracy.

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WeGov

Jordan's Flourishing IT Economy Could Falter With Passing of New Media Law

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, October 2 2012

Jordan's parliament has passed controversial legislation that would give the government sweeping powers to censor and block online content. Jordan is a regional IT innovation hub that has benefited from the small kingdom's political moderation and free Internet. But the new law could undermine both the innovation sector and online freedom of expression. Read More

WeGov

Graphic Map Shows Disappeared Mexican Journalists as Anti-Corruption Blogger 5algado is Still Missing

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, September 25 2012

An infographic and map produced by freedom of speech and information advocates Articulo 19 present a grim picture of murdered and disappeared Mexican journalists. Meanwhile nothing has been heard about the anti-corruption blogger Ruy Salgado (@el5anto), who went missing three weeks ago. Read More

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NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

Yesterday the National Democratic Institute launched a suite of web-based applications created for their partner organizations, mostly pro-democracy groups and political parties around the world. These “DemTools,” which are ready-to-use but can also be customized, will give organizations in developing countries some of the capabilities that political activists and parties in the United States have had for years. Moreover, since the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is making the promise to host partner organization's applications in the cloud essentially forever, they hope these applications will help usher in a period of more sustainable tech.

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