January ICYMI: OpenGov in DC, Kleptocracy, and the Start of New Things

OpenGov Hub is home to over 40 organizations, so there is always a lot of activity happening within our doors. Whether that's a member organized event on open government in the Philippines or an outside group wanting to host a demo on blockchain technology.
We want to help you keep track of everything that is going on, so we'll be posting this monthly ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) blog to give you a roundup of some of the happenings at the Hub.


DC Open Government Advisory Group Meeting

This DC Government advisory group meets monthly to craft recommendations on making the DC government more open and transparent, as well as making data available to DC residents. The DC OpenGov group then takes these recommendations to Mayor Muriel Bowser. In the spirit of the name of the group (and as required by the Open Meetings Act), these meetings are open to the public. If you missed it, you can watch the full meeting here.

Three Takeaways:

  1. The DC Mayor's OGAG is made up of half government staff and half citizens and is responsible for advising and monitoring DC's progress on open government.
  2. Their priorities for the next several months include helping review the city's new Data Policy, recommend data sets that should be placed on DC's Open Data portal, create a FOIA checklist to help both city employees and citizens know when and how to use FOIA, and much more.
  3. Some of the citizen members actually have not been active at all, so they are looking to replace them and bring on a few more members! If you're interested you should definitely contact the chair Jennifer Reed.

Perspectives on Foreign Kleptocracy: Problems and Solutions

Panelists Mark Melton and Ted Moorman presented frameworks for understanding the problems created by foreign kleptocracy and discussed the relative merits of some proposed solutions, attempting to highlight areas in which various perspectives are conflicting.

The Three Major Takeaways:

  1. Greater transparency about kleptocracy ("rule of thieves") won't necessarily combat it. In addition to increasing citizen knowledge its important to increase citizen agency to actually combat it.
  2. Estimates suggest that approximately 3.6 million people a year die as a result of corruption with state resources lining the pockets of corrupt leaders rather than providing essential services to their people.
  3. Some solutions to combat kleptocracy may include increased fines and sanctions, but it is difficult and complicated to prosecute kleptocrats internationally, especially since there is no international court. However, tech and data analytics offer new ways to potentially combat kleptocracy, such as predictive policing or sophisticated social network analysis maps that track kleptocrats and all their connections.

Additional Suggested Reading Resources: Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security by Sarah Chayes and The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith.

What To Expect at OpenGov Hub in 2017 

Here are four exciting priorities you can look forward to seeing and participating in from the OpenGov Hub in 2017:

1. Creating a more concerted focus on building and deepening our collaborative community.
Part of the mission of OpenGov Hub all along has been to be more than the sum of our parts, and with our strategy we released this past summer, we have been busily working on filling in the pieces of this collaborative framework. We are happy to announce that in the last few weeks, with the help of our volunteer Collaboration Committee, we launched the first ever OpenGov Hub Collaboration Toolkit. We'll be sure to provide you updates on the work of our members in the weeks and months ahead.

2. Growing our Broader Network
The OpenGov Hub has been completely full over the last several months, and we continue to see growing interest in membership. So we’re developing new ways to continue to broaden our network, including for organizations who might only need occasional workspace or none at all but still want to get connected to all our open government movers and shakers and to have access to members-only programs.

3. Fresh New Monthly Content
Just as we’re ramping up our Hub programs, we’re also excited to unveil our new communications series that will highlight the work of our members and our larger community.

The series includes three monthly parts:

  • The Know Your Hubber series, which will highlight the amazing people who make up our community.
  • In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) series, which will provide 3 key takeaways from the multitude of events hosted each month at the Hub. You're reading one right now!
  • The OpenGov Guest Post series will feature the latest analysis and findings on some of the most pressing opengov issues. (Have something to share? Let us know!)

4. Connecting the Dots, Globally and Locally
We’re coming together as a community now more than ever to figure out our role in this new era - not just under the new administration here in the US, but in a world where there are growing threats to open societies. As The Economist put it, the new global, political divide is no longer between left and right but between open and closed. But we believe the future is open.

You can read more about what to expect at the Hub this year here.