Open government

The (Harlem) Shaky Grounds for Redaction Award

After repealing the Open Internet Order and ending net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai doubled down on his efforts to ruin online culture. He released a cringe-inducing YouTube video titled "7 Things You Can Still Do on the Internet After Net Neutrality" that featured his own rendition of the "Harlem Shake" meme. Muckrock editor JPat Brown filed a Freedom of Information Act request for emails related to the video, but the FCC rejected the request, claiming the communications were protected "deliberative" records.

Chairmen Pallone, Doyle: FCC May Be Violating Federal Records Act

House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr.

President Trumps signs OPEN Government Data Act into law

President Donald Trump signed the OPEN Government Data Act into law. The transparency measure was tucked inside a larger bill to support evidence-based policymaking. The law requires agencies to release all non-sensitive data to the public in a format that allows for easy data analysis and largely prohibits them from restricting how that information can be used. It also mandates the Office of Management and Budget help agencies stand up “comprehensive data inventor[ies]” that include metadata on every dataset they publish.

Democrats Hit Back at FCC IG Report

Democrats on the House Commerce Committee are pushing back on a report by the Federal Communications Commission Inspector General finding no evidence of a "concealment or cover-up" by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in communications with the White House regarding the failed Sinclair-Tribune merger.

“What is the FCC hiding?” Chairman Pai still won’t release net neutrality server logs

The Federal Communications Commission has once again refused a New York Times request for records that the Times believes might shed light on Russian interference in the net neutrality repeal proceeding. The Times made a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in June 2017 for FCC server logs and sued the FCC in September 2018 over the agency's ongoing refusal to release the records. The court case is still pending, but the Times had also appealed directly to the FCC to reverse its FoIA decision.

FCC Inspector General Report on Sinclair-Tribune Merger Interactions Disclosure

In response to a request from Representative Frank Pallone, Jr.

House Passes IDEA Act, a Bill to Improve Government’s Digital Services

The House passed by bipartisan voice vote the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act, or 21st Century IDEA, which would require agencies to improve online customer experience by making new websites more user-friendly. The bill ultimately aims to make citizens less reliant on paper processes when interacting with federal agencies. The bill would set minimum accessibility, searchability and security standards for all new government websites, and require agencies to adopt web analytics tools to constantly improve sites’ functionality.

Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails about government business

In 2017, Ivanka Trump sent hundreds of emails to White House aides, Cabinet officials and her assistants using a personal account, many of them in violation of federal records rules. White House ethics officials learned of Trump’s repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit.

Judge: FCC can’t hide records that may explain net neutrality comment fraud

The Federal Communications Commission must stop withholding records that may shed light on fraudulent comments submitted in the FCC's network neutrality repeal proceeding, a US District Court judge ruled the week of Sept 10. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in Sept 2017 by freelance journalist Jason Prechtel, who sued the FCC after it failed to provide documents in response to his Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request.

The race to become "smart cities"

Cities are increasingly marketing themselves as "smart cities" — hyper-connected, sensor-equipped communities — in their latest economic development pitch to attract workers and businesses. Metropolitan areas across the country are trying to take advantage of new technologies to become more efficient and sustainable — two qualities that appeal to younger generations of workers, as well as the startups and big corporations who want to employ them.