Transparency News 10/4/19



October 4, 2019


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Contact us at


stories of national interest

With Census experts saying the 2020 national count is getting less support from the federal government than it did last decade, a civic tech project is helping to fill the void across the country. That project is the Census 2020 Hard to Count Map, created within the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Graduate Center. And for many who are working toward ensuring an accurate count, it’s the single most-used source of data and information, or so say members of public agencies at the state and local levels, nonprofits, grassroots community groups and other support bodies. At its simplest level, the Hard to Count Map helps pinpoint parts of the country — be they rural areas or dense neighborhoods in cities — where response rates are often lower than ideal. At the same time, it also allows for overlaying data that can indicate populations that have lower count totals, too, a list that includes students, immigrants, households with children younger than 5 and others.

One might presume that foreign spies do more damage to national security than those who leak classified information to the press. But the opposite could be true, government attorneys told a court this week, because the leaked information is circulated more widely. "While spies typically pass classified national defense information to a specific foreign government, leakers, through the internet, distribute such information without authorization to the entire world," the Justice Department attorneys wrote. "Such broad distribution of unauthorized disclosures may actually amplify the potential damage to the national security in that every country gains access to the compromised intelligence," they argued.
Secrecy News




editorials & columns


On Thursday morning, the atmosphere inside the Library of Virginia was alive with nervous energy. Tables reserved for quiet, independent reading and research morphed into collaborative, vocal spaces. “What do we want to do?” read one easel pad. “How will we do it? What story do we want to tell?” Libraries are the cornerstone of accessible information, and Virginia’s Datathon 2019 is an emerging venue to turn open Virginia datasets into transformative tools. A record-high 21 teams are participating in the competition’s sixth year, using new and existing spreadsheets to create 21st-century solutions on a critical topic — equity in education. Five-minute presentations will take place Friday, Oct. 4, at 3:30 p.m. at the Library of Virginia, with awards given to the top three teams. The event is open to the public and we recommend stopping by, or following on Twitter at #VADatathon2019. 
Richmond Times-Dispatch

The West Virginia Supreme Court has spent a lot of money — literally millions of dollars — to update the computer systems in its magistrate and circuit courts across the state. But whether that will ever pay off for the public in the ways that were envisioned remains to be seen. Times have changed a lot since the idea was started, and recent developments may make a totally online system fraught with risk. Recent cyberattacks that have crippled databases for government entities — including the Harrison County Clerk’s office — make it seem unlikely that the justices will want to abandon a paper backup system for court files, if that ever was on the table. Going paperless might be a really, really bad idea if someone could cripple or destroy these critical records.
Matt Harvey, The Exponent Telegram