The 50-Year-Old FOIA Is Getting an Update

June 16, 2016 12:00 pm PST | Data News Roundup

Bloomberg announces the latest What Works Cities, President Obama plans to sign the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, expanding public access to governmental records, and files that aren’t machine-readable continue to dominate Get the full scoop on the biggest open data headlines in this week’s Open Data Download.

What Works Cities Program Adds 12 New Cities

“Bloomberg Philanthropies has released the names of the next 12 cities to take part in its What Works Cities initiative (WWC), a $42 million program supporting data-driven strategies and services for residents. Bloomberg launched the program last year as way to scale the organization’s urban innovation expertise to cities across the nation. The program serves municipalities by supplying them with a team of data and policy specialists to assess data usage and chart new areas for growth. James Anderson, the head of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation program, is leading the effort that aspires to serve more than 100 mid-sized cities by 2018. Currently the municipal membership totals 39 cities in 25 states.” Read more from GovTech.

Obama ‘looks forward to signing’ FOIA reform

“President Obama ‘looks forward to signing’ a bill to expand public access to federal records, the White House said Tuesday. ‘The President looks forward to signing into law the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, which makes important upgrades to the FOIA system established nearly 50 years ago,’ White House spokesperson Brandi Hoffine said in a statement.” Read more from The Hill.

Study: PDF, HTML files dominate

“ heavily relies on HTML and PDF for its file formats, leaving two George Mason University researchers to ponder if the federal government’s data repository is achieving what it set out to accomplish…The study’s authors found that agencies have embraced publishing information to in a format that can be adopted by a wide array of the public. However, the study points out that the government may be too focused on informing the ‘English-literate public than the data literate who want machine-readable information.’” Read more from FedScoop.

Website will detail City of Tuscaloosa’s financial data

“Tuscaloosa city officials are moving forward with implementing a service to provide the public with regular, web-based updates about the use of tax dollars. Some of the information has been posted on the city’s website for several years, but a new contract with Socrata, a Seattle-based company that specializes in the dissemination of public information, is expected to make gaining access to the data easier and more user-friendly.” Read more from

Open Data & APIs: Collecting and Consuming What Cities Produce

“…attitudes on making city data publicly available have undergone a sea change in recent years. Starting with calls to make government more transparent and information easier to disseminate, the idea has spread throughout the public sector. But its biggest impact, arguably, has been at the local level, where citizens interact with government most frequently.” Read more from GovTech. 

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