Today is the deadline to register for the Gov 2.0a conference here in Oklahoma City.
This is the second year of the conference on open government, technology and citizen engagement. I attended last year and was very impressed with the lineup. This year’s lineup looks equally (if not more) impressive.
The conference starts Friday morning at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. It continues throughout the day and concludes with several keynote speakers Friday evening, including Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Tom Walker of i2E; and Hillary Hartley of NIC Inc.
On Saturday, the conference splits in two. One part, Mash-It-Up Camp, is geared more toward a tech audience. The other event, City Camp, will cater more to a government and community audience. My job straddles both worlds, but I plan to be at City Camp on Saturday.
For more on the Gov 2.0a conference, just check out their website. The conference is organized by a great group of local folks: Sid Burgess, Derrick Parkhurst, David Glover, Lindsey Coster and John R. Wood.
If you’re interested in government transparency, come out to the annual FOI Oklahoma Inc.** Sunshine Conference on Saturday, March 12. The event is from 8:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m. at The Oklahoman, 9000 Broadway Extension, Oklahoma City.
The conference will kick off Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote openness in government and empower the right to know among the people.
This year’s theme is “Putting Muscle Behind Oklahoma’s FOI Laws.” Registration is $35, but there are special rates for students and current FOI Oklahoma members. Check out a PDF of the schedule.
[Update: There also will be a silent auction, the proceeds of which will benefit FOI Oklahoma's Sunshine Fund. The organization used its first grant from that fund to help defray the costs of an Open Meetings Act lawsuit filed by citizen activists. Among the items up for bidding are an evening in an Oklahoma RedHawks suite at the Bricktown Ballpark; a one-night stay at the Colcord Hotel, among others. More items here. ]
The following is from Joey Senat, associate professor of journalism at Oklahoma State University and a former president of FOI Oklahoma:
The conference’s keynote speaker is a national Open Government Hall of Fame inductee, who will offer advice on creating a state agency that Oklahomans can go to for help when officials wrongly withhold records or restrict access to open meetings.
As executive director for the nation’s first-such state agency, Robert J. “Bob” Freeman is responsible for providing advice about New York’s open records and meeting laws to the public, state and local governments, and the media.
Freeman’s keynote address also will offer advice on making Oklahoma’s open government laws work for the public.
Other sessions include:
- A state representative [Rep. Jason Murphey] discussing bills requiring the Legislature to comply with Oklahoma’s Open Meeting and Records laws;
- A panel of local heroes who have gone to court seeking information under the Open Records Act and challenging the conduct of public bodies under the Open Meeting Act; and
- Experts explaining how to use the Open Records Act to request records and to spot the most-likely violations of the Open Meeting Act.
The luncheon will include a tribute to former Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian Opala. Recipients of FOI Oklahoma Inc.’s annual Marian Opala First Amendment Award and three freedom-of-information awards will be recognized, as will the winners of its first FOI essay contest for college students.
Please support open government in Oklahoma by attending this conference. More people equal a bigger message to those in government who ignore our state’s Open Records and Open Meeting laws.
**Full disclosure: I am a board member of FOI Oklahoma Inc. I’ll also be speaking on one of the panels.
This slipped by me earlier this week, but the Attorney General’s Office and Office of State Finance have given the green light for state and local governments to use Facebook.
On Tuesday, new Attorney General Scott Pruitt and state Chief Information Officer Alex Pettit announced they had reached an agreement to modify Facebook’s terms of service in Oklahoma for state and local governments.
“Social computing technologies, like Facebook, are increasingly important to the way government interacts and conducts business with the public.” Pettit said in a news release. “The state needs to continue to break down the barriers to public sector implementation, but in a way that meets the laws of Oklahoma and does not jeopardize the state’s IT resources.”
Pruitt and Pettit said the new Facebook terms of service are similar to ones negotiated by the federal government. Oklahoma was part of a working group on social media issues convened by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers and the National Association of Attorneys General.
“Facebook provides a tremendous venue for state agencies and their local counterparts to keep their constituents apprised of the great work they do,” Pruitt said. “We, and our partner agencies, look forward to using the site to stay in contact with the public.”
The agreement will apply immediately to government agencies and departments that already had a Facebook page.
Here’s the specifics of the agreement:
* Strike the indemnity clause except to the extent indemnity is allowed by a state’s constitution or law;
* Strike language requiring that legal disputes be venued in California courts and adjudicated under California law;
* Require that a public agency include language directing consumers to its official Web site prominently on any Facebook page; and,
* Encourage amicable resolution between public entities and Facebook over any disputes.
We just got word tonight that Rep. Randy Terrill has filed new legislation that will close off the dates of birth of all public employees in Oklahoma. This is despite the fact that the state makes millions selling the same information for registered voters, licensed drivers and college students.
Sensing that a standalone bill like the changes to HB 3382 made last week was unlikely to survive scrutiny by his fellow House members, it now looks like Terrill, R-Moore, has put the language into a so-called omnibus bill dealing with the state Department of Corrections.
The lengthy conference committee substitute for HB 3379 was filed this evening with the following provision:
D. Public bodies The Department of Corrections shall keep confidential the home address, telephone numbers and, social security numbers, employee identification number and birth date of any person employed or formerly employed by the public body.
The next section then takes the exemption for DOC employees and makes it applicable to all public bodies. It also renders moot a pending Open Records Act request by The Oklahoman for the birth dates of public employees by making the bill retroactive:
E. The provisions of subsection D of this section shall be applicable to all public bodies and to any request made pursuant to the provisions of the Oklahoma Open Records Act prior to the effective date of this act for which a public body has not provided a response as of the effective date of this act.
It’s my understanding that new legislation has to sit on the House calendar for at least 24 hours before being considered by the House. That means this bill could come up for a vote as early as Wednesday evening.
For previous blog coverage of this issue, check out the following posts:
- Oklahoma brings in millions by selling personal data
- Special mailing list deal for Oklahoma Public Employees Association
- “Privacy pirates” and the politics of fear
- DOB bill compromise attacks spirit of Open Records Act
- Public employee date of birth bill resurrected
UPDATE: The Senate on Tuesday afternoon passed HB 3422 by a vote of 44-0. It now goes to the governor.
It’s already been a busy last week of session at the Oklahoma Legislature, but a couple of transparency bills have moved one step closer to being law.
On Monday, the House approved House Bill 3422 by Rep. Ken Miller, R-Edmond, and Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond. It adds more features and transparency to the state’s Open Books website for financial information. Capitol reporter Michael McNutt has more in today’s paper. HB 3422 now goes back to the Senate for final approval.
From the bill summary:
HB3422 amends existing law by requiring the Office of State Finance (OSF) to update the state’s Open Books website with “Open Books 2.0” by January 1, 2011.
Open Books 2.0 will be a more expansive, searchable online database that lists individual expenditures – regardless of amount – separate from aggregated amounts. The website must present the data in a standardized exportable format. Within 18 months of Open Books 2.0 being online, OSF must create an online archive for each fiscal year beginning with FY-11. The archive must be accessible and searchable to online users.
HB 3422 also peels back some of the secrecy surrounding the state’s tax credits. It expands the information collected on the claimants and brokers of income tax credits:
HB3422 also adds a new law that requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission to prepare and maintain a list of all taxpayers who have claimed any tax credit authorized by any provisions of state law and related to a tax administered by the Tax Commission. It then requires the Office of State Finance to make this list available on the Internet. The list must include the name of each taxpayer who claimed a credit, the amount of such credit and the specific statutory provision under which the credit was claimed. The list must be updated on at least a monthly basis.
However, it does not require the same disclosure information on claimants of the insurance premium tax credits, which are administered by the state Insurance Department. Almost $58 million in insurance premium tax credits were claimed in tax year 2008, according to the department. That’s up from $54 million in 2007 and $39 million in 2006.
That increase in insurance premium tax credits claimed came despite collections on that tax remaining fairly steady in those three years. Almost $166 million in premium taxes was collected in 2006, while $159 million was collected in 2008, according to the department.
Marc Young, Insurance Department spokesman, said information about the insurance premium tax credits is available from the department, but it is not required to post the information on Open Books. Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, who worked on the tax credit language in HB 3422, said adding insurance premium tax credits to Open Books might come in a future legislative session.
School district spending transparency
This morning, the House approved Senate Bill 1633, the School District Transparency Act. The bill, by Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, and Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Goodwell, directs the state Department of Education to create a website for searching school district financial data such as credit card payments, instructional costs and administrative overhead.
Some of that data is already available on the department’s website, but it’s contained in hundreds of separate PDF files. That makes it hard to get a complete picture of school district spending over time and makes it difficult to compare school districts against each other. Here’s an example of one of the reports in the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System at the department:
Note: This is a slightly longer version of today’s story:
BY PAUL MONIES
The natural rivalry between the Oklahoma’s two largest cities has been overtaken by the way both have grown in the last decade.
Oklahoma City now has more in common with Tampa, Fla., and Boise, Idaho, than it does with Tulsa. Meanwhile, Tulsa is more like Wichita, Kan., and Cleveland, Ohio, than Oklahoma City.
That’s according to a new study of Census data in the nation’s top 100 metropolitan areas — which include two-thirds of the U.S. population — by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy organization. The metros range in size from 500,000 people in Modesto, Calif., to 19 million in New York City. The study clusters metro areas into seven groups that share characteristics.
As a “mid-sized magnet” metro, Oklahoma City has had higher growth, lower diversity and lower educational levels than most other metropolitan areas. Tulsa, grouped into the “industrial core” type, has lower growth, lower diversity and lower educational attainment than the national average among metros.
“The new metro map of the United States forces us to think outside the conventional regional boxes that have informed America’s narrative for generations,” said Bruce Katz, vice president and director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
The Brookings analysis highlights the changing nature of America’s metro areas, central cities and their suburbs from 2000 to 2008. In Oklahoma, Tulsa and Oklahoma City are at the front lines of emerging immigration, income and aging trends. Among the highlights:
- Migration: Oklahoma City ranked seventh and Tulsa ranked 15th in the percentage of residents who moved in the last year.
- Income: Tulsa suburbs ranked second in median household income growth from 2000 to 2008. Oklahoma City suburbs ranked 14th in the same category. However, median household income in the two metro areas overall slipped because of declines in the central cities.
- Immigration: Oklahoma City suburbs ranked 10th in the proportion of foreign-born immigrants who have arrived since 2000. Tulsa suburbs ranked 94th in that category. Because it uses census data, the Brookings analysis does not make the distinction between legal and illegal immigrants.
- Education: Roughly one-fourth of residents in Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas have bachelor’s degrees, putting the Oklahoma City metro at No. 69 and the Tulsa metro at No. 79.
- Transportation: The Oklahoma City metro area ranks eighth nationally in the percentage of commuters who drive to work alone. The Tulsa metro area came in at No. 30.
Neither Oklahoma City nor Tulsa was affected by the rapid rise and fall of home values affecting many other metro areas that was a factor in the current recession. Although both metros have been hit by manufacturing and service job losses and rising unemployment, their relatively stable housing markets and energy companies have buffeted those declines.
“As the economy began to deteriorate in other parts of the country, Oklahoma City was prospering,” said Eric Long, manager of economic research for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “Low unemployment, coupled with stability in our housing market, were big factors.”
Long said inquiries about relocating to Oklahoma City from both companies and individuals have picked up after dropping off in the last year or so. Many come from people looking for a fresh start.
“They are unhappy with employment and cost of living issues in their home states and have heard about Oklahoma City,” Long said. “They may not have relatives or know anyone here, but are still willing to take a chance on our city.”
Retaining college grads
Officials from Tulsa and Oklahoma City chambers mentioned the importance of attracting and retaining college graduates and entrepreneurs, who in the past might have sought jobs or started companies in larger regional metros such as Dallas or Denver.
Susan Harris, senior vice president of education and workforce for the Tulsa Metro Chamber, said if the Tulsa area can grow its percentage of residents with college degrees just one percentage point, it would mean an extra $646 million per year in economic activity. The Tulsa metro area had a gross domestic product of $45 billion in 2008, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“We know a city that doesn’t grow dies, so growth is important,” Harris said. “Everything we’re doing is about making sure we are open and receptive to new people coming in and living here, locating their businesses and bringing their families and we are receptive to higher density development in the inner core of the city.
Harris said the chamber is working with colleges, universities and businesses to identify residents who were close to finishing a degree but never did. Another effort includes tightening the integration of career pathways. For example, in the nursing field, it includes ways for certified nursing assistants to get their licensed practical nurse certification and for registered nurses to get bachelor of science degrees in nursing.
More poor in suburbs
Nationally, the Brookings report found 53 percent of the metro poor now live in suburbs, up from 48 percent in 2000. This increasing suburbanization of poverty has implications for policymakers, who have traditionally directed social programs to large cities, said Alan Berube, Ö who headed up the analysis for the Metropolitan Policy Program.
The latest food stamp numbers from the state Department of Human Services shows that the number of people getting food stamps in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metros rose more than 30 percent between February 2009 and February 2010. But most outlying counties in those metro areas posted higher percentage increases than Oklahoma and Tulsa counties.
Katz, meanwhile, said America’s population growth and diversity, particularly in its metro areas, may be its “ace in the hole.”
“In the global context, the United States is a demographically blessed nation,” he said. “Established competitors like Japan, Britain and Germany are either growing slowly or actually declining; rising nations like China remain relatively homogenous.”
The Oklahoman’s Watchdog Team: Looking out for you.
Read the entire Brookings report on the new metro landscape.
Oklahoma fact sheets:
You can check out a Google spreadsheet of the tweets here.
Here’s a quick tag cloud I created using IBM’s ManyEyes tool:
If you’re interested in the public interactions among government, technology, social networks and freedom of information, you might want to check out the Gov2.0a conference at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City on May 6-7.
I’ll be presenting on a panel about the media’s role in the Government 2.0 movement.
Other confirmed speakers are the state’s new chief information officer, Alex Pettit, as well as Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, and Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D-Seminole. At the local government level will be Zach Nash with the city of Oklahoma City, Matt Mueller from Guthrie and Dustin Haisler from Manor, Texas.
Check out the full list of speakers and sessions here.
Also, all conference attendees will get a free copy of the Open Government book published by O’Reilly. (It’s also available as an iPhone app here.) Co-author Laurel Ruma is one of the speakers at the conference.
The prices for passes and dinner tickets to the conference range from $49 to $99 before April 30. After that, they range from $99 to $159.
In other Gov 2.0 news, the Oklahoma House of Representatives last week passed an amendment to Senate Bill 1759, which would expand the state’s efforts to put government information online. The amendment, by Rep. Murphey, followed an earlier effort that fell short. SB 1759 now heads back to the Senate for consideration.
In an e-mail, Murphey said SB 1759 goes much further than his earlier bill. Here’s how he summarized the main points of the proposal:
1. Establish standardized social media and limited liability polices for state agencies.
2. The standardization of interfaces for the utilization of state government services through web-based access. (Such as the 311 open source standards.)
3. Require data set publication and APIs to interface with the data sets with a focus on pushing out the data which is most often requested through open records requests.
4. Establish an application process by which developers and members of the public can ask the board to require new data feeds.
Meanwhile, in Washington today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers organized the first Transparency Caucus, which will attempt to pass laws requiring certain government information to be posted online. That effort is being supported by the Sunlight Foundation, a government and technology “think tank.”
In the next few months, airplanes will be taking pictures of Oklahoma County for some updated imagery for the Oklahoma County Assessor’s Web site.
The new aerial maps will be at a much higher resolution than the images currently available on the assessor’s Web site. The county is sharing the cost with several other cities and the Association of Central Oklahoma Government, according to our story today:
The resolution on most of the photos will be about twice as good as previous versions. [Assessor Leonard] Sullivan said Edmond chipped in additional money for slightly higher resolution photos than other parts of the county.
“This made a really good partnership that saved everyone some money,” Sullivan said.
James Mallory, GIS director in Sullivan’s office, said the company taking the aerial images has their flight crew in town and will be flying over the county as the weather improves. He said the new images should be up on the assessor’s Web site by May or June.