FOI Notes: Studies, Ratings, Mentorship, Open Data, Reports, Surveys, Video

25 January 2013

Open Government Guide Revision: The Transparency & Accountability Initiative (T/AI) is updating the 2011 Opening Government Guide which has multiple chapters describing good practices in transparency, accountability and citizen participation across a wide range of open government areas. Feedback on the original guide is being sought via a very short survey here goo.gl/SxcAX . To give specific feedback on a particular chapterthere is a short survey here  goo.gl/Il5ZT.

Funding: Google.org announced support for the Sunlight Foundation and mySociety–and their work on tech solutions for civic innovation. “We are providing $2.1 million to the Sunlight Foundation to grow their programs for open government data, with a focus on making civic information for U.S. cities transparent, available, and useable. Google providing mySociety $1.6 million “to build a global platform to equip developers with tools and resources–such as open source code–to more easily and quickly launch new civic apps and services. This initiative can promote collaboration between civic-minded technologists, regardless of geography.”

Mentorship: The Transparency & Accountability Initiative (T/AI) is launching a pilot mentorship program in response to needs identified by organizations at the TABridge Sessions for increased strategic technology hands?on skill building. Six to nine organizations will be selected to participate in a five?month program running from March through July. Applications are due Feb. 18. The announcment also said:

Selected organisations will be partnered with a Mentor to support them in developing uses of technology to help achieve their mission and goals, and in the process, develop sustainable skills for strategic thinking and implementation for technology projects.

The TABridge Mentorships are open to all groups in the natural resource governance and budget transparency fields who attended the 2011 or 2012 TABridge Sessions. Other groups working to improve transparency and accountability are very welcome to apply.  Both will need to demonstrate and understanding of the need to think very strategically about new tech use.

Participants will be selected based on their stated learning goals and the level of preliminary thinking about technology demonstrated in their applications. The program seeks to develop strategic capacity, so organisations with varying degrees of prior experience will be considered, but applications must demonstrate existing thinking about the proposed technology project, or informed questions about the same.

The aim of the TABridge Mentorships is to increase T/A organisations’ understanding and application of technology in T/A interventions so that these deliver stronger impact at scale and positive social change.  Participants will receive high-touch strategic guidance from strategy, communications and technology experts.  Mentors will tailor their inputs to the organisational capacity of each organisation to ensure that post mentorship.

Civic Hacking: A White House blog post: “This summer, on June 1-2, 2013, citizens in cities across the Nation will join together to improve their communities and governments as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. Civic Hacking Day is an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly-released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans.”

Ratings:Walking in Sunshine, or Away From It? Creating a Unified Transparency Index,” a Sept. 24, 2012, academic article by John Hogan, Dublin Institute of Technology; Raj Chri,Trinity College Dublin; and Gary Murphy, Dublin City University. The authors create a “sunshine score” for 16 countries by combining the FOI law ranking done by the Centre for Law and Democracy and Access Info Europe with a measure of lobbying regulation by the Center for Public Integrity. Top ranked on this two-part scale? Slovenia, U.S., Hungary, Canada.

Mexico/Chile:  A book written in cooperation by IFAI -Mexico- and the Transparency Council of Chile about the autonomous institutions that guarantee the exercise of the right of access to information, how they are organized, managed and how they work.

United States: “Grading the Government’s Data Publication Practices,” a report byJim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute and the webmaster of WashingtonWatch.com

Bulgaria: Access to Information Programme’s fifth book of analyses and commentary on access to information litigation in Bulgaria is now available in English.The book Litigation Under the Access to Information Legislation is part of the continuous analyses which AIP has been making on the Access to Public Information Act litigation in Bulgaria and is the fifth from the series: http://www.aip-bg.org/en/publications/books/Authors are the attorneys-at-law from AIP legal team Alexander Kashumov, head of the team, and Kiril Terziyski. The foreword is by Gergana Jouleva, AIP Executive Director.

The book consists of three parts: general issues; terms, scope and procedures under the APIA; and the restrictions to the right of access to information. It also contains annotations of 16 court cases by topic. They illustrate the issues contested in court and are related to the analyzed problems. More about the book: http://www.aip-bg.org/en/news/Litigation_Under_Access_to_Information_Legislation/20121119005794/.

United States: Video from a Jan. 17 conference titled “Transparency in the Obama Administration: A Fourth-Year Assessment” –sponsored by the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at the American University Washington College of Law.

Open Data:  Simon Chignard, author of L’Open data: Comprendre l’ouverture des données publiques, writes about the link between the open data movement and the philosophy of common goods. Chignard states that “despite the strong conceptual and historical linkages, it seems that we, as actors of open data, are often shy to reaffirm the relationship. In our efforts to encourage public and private bodies to embrace open data, we seem almost embarrassed of this cornerstone philosophy.” Chignard makes four proposals with largely French references.

Open Data: David Sasaki in a blog post discusses having clear objectives for the open data movement. An excerpt:

There is a sense of open government fatigue among many of us who have been working in the sector over the past five years. Often it can feel like we’ve made little progress and we’re still participating in the same echo chambers without mainstreaming the movement. At the same time, I think that many of us are coming to the realization that these past five years were spent just writing the introduction, and only now are we starting the first chapter. Hopefully we’re prepared for the long journey and we can consolidate our efforts with more clarity, but without the perception of competition.

Open Data: The University of Leeds is conducting a research project “on overcoming barriers to realising the value of open government data.” It is seeking participants for an online survey.  Lead researcher: Christopher Martin  <C.A.Martin@leeds.ac.uk>

“You do not need a detailed knowledge of open data to take part. By participating in this survey and providing your viewpoint you will be helping to shape policy, research and the wider dialogue on open government data.”

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