Strawberry Fields Forever? California's Pesticide Addiction Harms Local Communities

If you've eaten strawberries recently, you can probably thank a California grower. Mild temperatures and an extended growing season mean that at least 80 percent of strawberries sold in the U.S. originate from the state. However, new research suggests that the tasty fruit comes with a heavy price for local communities because of the extensive use of harmful pesticides.   Those living near strawberry fields face higher risks of cancer and other health problems from exposure to the chemicals.

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How to Strengthen Transparency in the U.S. Open Government Plan

Yesterday, OMB Watch submitted its recommendations for the Obama administration's national plan for the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The administration will unveil its plan, with new concrete commitments to increase transparency, at the international OGP meeting on Sept. 20.

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Transparency Hearing Highlights Spending Data Issues

Even though Sunshine Week is officially this week, the House of Representatives got the ball rolling last Friday. The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform (say that ten times fast) held a hearing called "Transparency Through Technology: Evaluating Federal Open-Government Initiatives," although the hearing focused more on spending transparency than anything else. While one would expect that an oversight hearing in the House “evaluating” the Obama administration’s transparency efforts would be contentious, the most surprising aspect of the hearing was that it wasn’t.

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Get Ready for a Lot More Information on Government Performance

The Government Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Performance Improvement Act, now awaiting President Obama's signature, will significantly expand the amount of information available to the public about government performance.

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Why Doesn't Federal Spending Add Up?

A new report by the Sunlight Foundation found widespread errors in USASpending.gov data.

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Time for Agency Data Quality Plans Comes and Goes with Little to Show

The Open Government Directive (OGD) issued on December 8, 2009 included a mandate that all agencies create a data quality plan that enhanced the transparency of how agencies spend federal funds.  Two weeks ago, these plans were supposed to be finalized and released to the public but so far we can only find one agency’s plan.

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New Recovery Act Memo Comes as Recipients Improve Reporting

On Tuesday, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a new guidance on Recovery Act recipient reporting.  The memo expands on several earlier memos on the same topic, but it lays out more concrete steps for agencies to follow.

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What Happened to Obama’s Commitment to Scientific Integrity?

Today, March 9, is the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s scientific integrity memo which instructed his staff to produce within 120 days recommendations for ensuring independence of federal scientists and limiting political interference in their work. 365 days later, we’re still waiting.

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Recovery Act Data Shows Recipients Are Learning

Earlier today, the Recovery Board released the list of Recovery Act recipients who did not file during the second reporting period.   According to the Board, recipients of 1,036 Recovery Act awards failed to file during this quarter, which was from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2009. That number represents a whopping 76 percent decline from the first reporting cycle, which saw 4,359 missing award reports, and is less than one percent of all the award reports. Equally good news is that of the 1,036 missing reports, only 389 were from "repeat offenders," or recipients who failed to file in both quarters.

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Transparency Community Voices Concerns over Data.gov

Yesterday, a group of organizations, including OMB Watch, submitted concerns with the high-value datasets published on Data.gov in compliance with the requirements of the Open Government Directive (OGD) issued on Dec. 8. The OGD required that agencies submit at least three high value datasets within 45 days through Data.gov.   These groups outlined the major problems with the site and its implementation thus far.  I have summarized these issues below.

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