Gray appoints open gov advisory group. But will it last? - Technical.ly DC

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Oct. 31, 2014 7:26 am

Gray appoints open gov advisory group. But will it last?

Mayor Vincent Gray announced Wednesday he was pushing forward with other initiatives from his July open government directive. But with his successor to be elected Tuesday, Office of Open Government director Traci Hughes worries what will become of his plans.
D.C. government is looking to help.

D.C. government is looking to help.

(Photo by Flickr user Bossi, used under a Creative Commons license)

Mayor Vincent Gray appointed a 15-member advisory group Wednesday, one of several initiatives to roll out the open government directive he promulgated in July.

The Open Government Advisory Group is mostly composed of members of the administration, like Office of Open Government director Traci Hughes, Office of the Chief Technology Officer CTO Rob Mancini and Ayesha Abbasi from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

"It would be most unfortunate if the momentum that's been gained so far is lost with the new Mayor."
Office of Open Government director Traci Hughes

But there’s also a handful of open government advocates like Robert Becker, a board member of the D.C. Open Government Coalition, and Code for DC’s Justin Grimes.

What remains to be seen is how much of a voice this advisory group will have under the next mayor, to be elected in less than a week.

Hughes, the Office of Open Government director, told Technical.ly DC she was happy with the progress the District had made on open government. Many of the measures included in the July Transparency, Open Government and Open Data directive (PDF) were drawn from a best practices report from the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability she helped put out last December.

“We are light years away from just a year ago,” she said in an email. And Hughes hopes the new group’s recommendations will help “create a more responsive, rather than reactive government.” That’s why her first priority, she said, is to keep it “intact” under the next administration. “It would be most unfortunate if the momentum that’s been gained so far is lost with the new Mayor,” Hughes said.

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Some of the other new measures announced Wednesday include a redesign of track.dc.gov, where citizens can track government performance measures, and grade.dc.gov, where they can input their own two cents about how agencies are faring.

Data.dc.gov, the old site for government data, has now been consolidated into opendata.dc.gov. Meanwhile, the terms and conditions for government data usage have been modified again, to the relief of open government activist Joshua Tauberer. On his blog, he applauded the changes, which removed a vague requirement to follow the “rules” and to always attribute the District when using government data.

But he also cautioned that the District may still retain copyrights over certain aspects of the data. “Data per se isn’t protected by copyright law, but the way a dataset is presented may be,” Tauberer explained, adding that the update “created more confusion that there was before.” Worse, he explained in an email, “it is a lever that the District could use against projects it doesn’t like.”

But Tauberer told Technical.ly DC that the OCTO had responded very rapidly to his criticisms. “It’s about as fast as I’ve ever seen a government agency respond to feedback of this sort,” he said. “Many of the issues that I initially raised have been completely addressed.”

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