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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Help edit the “Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017”

This is a very cool idea as well as an important policy statement. Sunlight Foundation and a diverse coalition of government transparency, data innovation, scientific groups and environment defense advocates have come together to advocate for the “Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017”, which was recently introduced in the Senate. Sunlight has put the bill up on Madison, the site that allows for public collaboration on policy documents. So here’s your chance to read the bill and add your comments and suggestions to make the bill better!

This bill, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate this spring, would require federal agencies to preserve public access to data sets and prevent the removal of those data sets from the Internet without sufficient public notice. The Sunlight Foundation, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government, supports the bill — but we want to make it better. You can comment on the full text of the Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017 below. Well make sure the Senate staff that drafted the bill see your contributions.

via The Preserving Data in Government Act of 2017 | Madison.

OPEN Government Data Act (S. 2852) passes Senate

Here’s some good news from our friends at the Sunlight Foundation. After much work by Sunlight, the Congressional Data Coalition, and many others, the “Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary Government Data Act” or the “OPEN Government Data Act” (S.2852) just passed the US Senate with an amendment by unanimous consent. The OPEN Government Data Act has been a core priority of the Sunlight Foundation in Washington in 2016. The OPEN Government Data Act would put into law a set of enduring open data principles upon which we can all agree! Hopefully, in early 2017, the US House will introduce a similar bill and send the bill to the President — and then they can get to work on making CRS reports publicly available too!

From Sunlight’s daily newsletter:

…the Senate has provided a unanimous endorsement of a set of enduring open data principles that the Sunlight Foundation has advanced and defended for a decade: that data created using the funds of the people should be available to the people in open formats online, without cost or restriction. We hope that the U.S. House will quickly move to re-introduce the bill in the 115th Congress and work across the aisle to enact it within the first week of public business. We expect the members of Congress who stood up for open government data this fall to continue do so in 2017.

Farewell OpenCongress, hello GovTrack

The news just hit the street that Sunlight Foundation’s OpenCongress will be retired on March 1. OpenCongress has been a valuable tool for Congressional information seekers since 2007. But this news is actually a good thing. OpenCongress will now point users to GovTrack.us which also has a long history of valuable information service. And what’s more, some of the best pieces of OpenCongress will be absorbed into GovTrack to make it better going forward. As Sunlight says, this is a win, win for everyone. Thanks Sunlight for 10 years of great civic tech and more going forward!

Some key differences exist between GovTrack and OpenCongress, though, and we wanted to make sure civil society didn’t lose functionality when we retired this site. In particular, OpenCongress includes the ability to contact congressional members through Sunlight’s completely redesigned and revamped Email Congress, a service that relies on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s javascript driver, because collaboration = awesome. As well as being available at the brand new EmailCongress.us, GovTrack is now incorporating the Email Congress service into its own site. And users can now access GovTrack’s excellent data and strong analytics as well as Email Congress in one spot. Win, win.

GISIG: Cabinet agencies release full inventory lists of their public data

Happy Open Data Day indeed!

Sunlight Foundation Blog, via GISIG

Just in time for Open Data Day, your Uncle Sam — aided and abetted by developers here at Sunlight — is giving you a present.

It has taken weeks, but it appears that all Cabinet agencies have released complete machine-readable lists of their public data holdings, in compliance with President Barack Obama’s Open Data Executive Order. Now, with the help of Sunlight’s Dan Drinkard and Tim Ball, you can access most of these inventories in human-readable format as well. (zip file or Google doc spreadsheet)

Thanks to the guidelines crafted by Project Open Data, each metadata set uses the same set of schema, which gives information like the dataset’s title, where to access the set (if it has been made publicly available), point of contact and data format among other things (see the full rundown of schema on Project Open Data’s page on github)…


OpenGov Champion Sandra Moscoso used open data to fund DC school librarians

Sunlight Foundation’s OpenGov Champion of the month is Sandra Moscoso. Sandra is a mom of two public school students in Washington DC, and a member of the Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization (CHPSPO) — oh and she just happens to manage an open data portal at the World Bank’s financial sector.

…she and other CHPSPO members were able to collect data to show how the schools that had a full time librarian had better test score results than those who had lost theirs due to budget cuts. The group was able to use that figure as an effective basis for their request to the city to restore funding for librarians.