Clement scandal forces government to be more transparent


Get sharing: feds open access to government data
Treasury Board President Tony Clement announced new 'open government' efforts on Twitter

The federal government is easing restrictions on the use of the taxpayer-funded data it makes available to the public.

Since the March launch of the open data program, there had been criticism that licensing rules made it too difficult for anyone to do anything useful with the reams of information posted online.

For example, similar data projects run by municipal governments have led to citizens building programs that include applications mapping restaurants according to food inspection reports.

But the data being shared by the feds had prohibited the information being reverse-engineered to identify businesses so consumer-friendly apps with that kind of detail couldn't be built.

The open data portal collates 260,000 federal government data sets covering everything from immigration statistics to mapping co-ordinates.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement says he's not heard yet of anyone doing anything creative with the federal government data made available to date. "We're liberalizing the approach on the terms and conditions of using the data sets to make it easier to access, more functional, easier to use and that will hope and we're quite convinced actually will make it easier for innovation to occur," he said in an interview about the new rules.

The government is also simplifying attribution requirements for the data.

A key issue among open data enthusiasts is that when products are built using multiple data sources, the attributions can pile up and crowd out the actual information seen on the screen in what's known as the NASCAR effect, as its akin to the proliferation of ads on race cars.

The original open data license had also required that the data not be used in "any way which, in the opinion of Canada, may bring disrepute to or prejudice the reputation of Canada" but after an immediate outcry, that clause was deleted within hours of the license agreement being posted online.

The government also announced that by January 2012 it will be mandatory for agencies subject to the Access to Information Act to post summaries online of the information they release under the Act.

Almost two dozen agencies already do so.

The access to information system though is collapsing under the weight of demand and the lengthy review process agencies undertake before they release information in response to requests.

"An open government initiative and a commitment to transparency must include a willingness to improve the efficiency of our access to information regime," Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault recently told a Senate committee.

"In this area, much work remains to be done."

The data portal is part of the overall open government strategy which has been moving slowly ahead since its March launch. Clement, one of the loudest champions of bringing the government into the web 2.0 world, said in a recent interview that he hopes to push the initiative ahead faster.

"I think the principle of open government is to when you give more data out, when you make it more readily available in formats that are easily understandable and can be used for different purposes, it creates whole avenues of opportunities for consumer products as well as a better dialogue between government and the citizenry," he said.

Another element of the open government strategy is a desire to use the web to engage more directly with Canadians but a briefing note prepared for Clement after he became Treasury Board President in May suggested there are a number of challenges.

"Most web platforms in use across the government do not support a real-time, two-way online dialogue," the note said.

The briefing note also says the government is working on formal guidelines for social media use by government departments.

Currently dozens of government agencies are using Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs and other web 2.0 tools for public outreach but how those tools are used is up to each individual department. "The guidance is aligned with existing policies and legislation and is designed to help departments guide public servants in making good choices that mitigate risks while maximizing benefit of Web 2.0 tools and services," the note said.

Access to Information changes

Treasury Board President Tony Clement announced Wednesday that by January 1, 2012 all departments and agencies subject to the Access to Information Act will post summaries of completed access to information requests on their websites.

Summaries would need to be posted within 30 calendar days after the end of the month during which the information was released.

Thirty-four (external - login to view) institutions now make summaries of completed access to information requests available on their websites.

The CBC (external - login to view) posts not only summaries but also actual documents released under the Act that are in the public interest.

Get sharing: feds open access to government data - Politics - CBC News
Clear as mud!
#3  Top Rated Post
Frankly, Tony and company couldn't be more transparent.
Nobody pays any legal price ths time, the cost may be political though. The hope is that it never happens again due to improved procedures and auditing.
Next time we'll cut fingers off of anyone caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
John Baird said he approved everything, no problem. Just move along, nothing to see here any more.
As my late great daddy used to say " I'd trust that son of a bitch as far as I could chuck a locomotive".and to the best of my knowlage,I am my fathers son.
The funny thing about transparency is that it should be coupled with accountability.

Now isn't that ironic.
On a related note and speaking of irony and transparency and all that jazz music, here's an item that ties-in nicely:

Spot the irony in Vice President Biden’s (external - login to view) schedule today, from the White House’s (external - login to view) daily guidance

Biden hidin'

VP's closed-door transparency chat

At 1:00 PM, the Vice President will attend a meeting of the Government Accountability and Transparency Board in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. At 2:30 PM, the Vice President will meet with representatives of the National Sheriffs' Association in the Roosevelt Room. These meetings are closed press.

(It was only two months ago that State Department officials briefed reporters on transparency efforts but refused to have their names be printed (external - login to view); and in March, the White House postponed a pooled-press ceremony (external - login to view) for President Obama to get an openness award -- it was later rescheduled and carried out in an undisclosed meeting (external - login to view).)

VP's closed-door transparency chat | POLITICO 44 (external - login to view)

NDP says Clement doctored minutes

Treasury Board president asks Speaker to investigate changes made to record

The Opposition unveiled Wednesday both the unedited and edited versions of a Hansard transcript of a Nov. 2 Commons committee meeting.

Asked twice during the meeting by New Democrat MP Charlie Angus whether he would table the 242 completed project forms, Clement said "sure" each time, according to the unedited record.

The word "sure," however, is missing from the edited version, Angus said Wednesday.

Angus and his fellow MP Alexandre Boulerice also released documents Wednesday obtained by the NDP from the Town of Muskoka Lakes which they say contradict Clement's testimony before committee. The discrepancies, they say, relate to the then-industry minister's claim that he and his officials had no direct involvement in winnowing down the 242 projects to 32.

Emails, however, suggest otherwise.

"Canadians were told that Mr. Clement's testimony would finally provide answers and give closure on the G8 boondoggle," Angus said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Clement used the committee as an exercise in spin, obfuscation and misrepresentation of the facts and what is, perhaps, most disturbing is the actual public record of his answers were changed after the fact."

NDP says Clement doctored minutes (external - login to view)

Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

That giant Clement sign as you're driving by in Muskoka is tre classy.

oh.. and also this.. lulz:

Clement under fire for hiring $90,000-a-day consultant to suggest savings

Treasury Board president Tony Clement came under fire Thursday for the government's plans to find billions of dollars in cuts - including from the auditor-general's office - but still spend millions on external consultants.

Clement was grilled for an hour in front of a House of Commons committee on the government's spending initiatives and plans to find $4 billion in annual cuts by 2014-15, as well as the looming chop to the auditor-general's budget.

The minister and his officials also faced several questions on why the federal government will spend at least $360 million this year on Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's nuclear reactor division that it just sold for only $15 million plus royalties.

As the government searches for savings, Clement faced questions on why he's looking to streamline a federal auditor-general's office that's facing an eight per cent cut to its budget and 10 per cent chop to its staff. The auditor-general will also stop performing some basic financial audits of close to 20 federal boards, agencies and commissions. "We know that [the AG's office] has been very useful in the past ... why are you planning on cutting the office of the auditor-general? Doesn't it save taxpayers money?" asked NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat.

Clement said he recognizes the independence of the auditor-general's office but sent letters to the officers of Parliament to see if they, like federal departments and agencies, could voluntarily trim their budgets between five per cent and 10 per cent.

The minister said interim auditor-general John Wiersema communicated that he was "quite keen" to cut the auditor-general's budget, "understanding that per-haps the auditor-general has to lead by example in some cases." The Harper government is conducting an ongoing operating review that is searching for $1 billion in cuts for next year, $2 billion for 2013-14, and $4 billion by 2014-15. Nearly 70 government departments and agencies are required to submit scenarios for a five and 10 per cent cut to their budgets.

To help find savings across government, Treasury Board is spending millions of dollars on external consultants for their expertise, but the NDP questioned the value of the hired help and why public servants can't do the work. "It's just a little bit difficult for Canadians to understand why you're cutting in public service jobs while you're giving money to external consultants by the boatload," Ravignat added.

The Conservative government is paying Deloitte Consulting nearly $20 million - almost $90,000 a day - to advise the cabinet and senior officials until next spring on how to find savings to balance the books in the coming years.

Clement said the external consultants are meant to pro-vide a fresh set of eyes on government spending and improve federal programs and services. He stressed the government hasn't made any final decisions on cuts, although some could be announced in the spring budget.

"We're not looking at it from an ideological point of view. We're looking at it from a common sense point of view to see whether there's a practical, pragmatic way to deliver better services to Canadians," he said.

Clement and senior department officials faced repeated questions on why the federal government is spending at least $360 million this year (including workforce transition costs) on AECL's nuclear reactor division it just sold for $15 million plus royalties to SNC-Lavalin.

Clement under fire for hiring $90,000-a-day consultant to suggest savings (external - login to view)

So glad the Libs are taking it to this douche (not).

The NDP are fiscally conservative and the Conservatives are not.

Who woulda thunk it?
Toss him in the clink!
Clement stands by G8 testimony

Treasury Board president Tony Clement rejected accusations from the NDP Wednesday that he made "false and misleading statements" to Parliament about his role in the G8 legacy fund and said he stands by his testimony.

"I answered all of those questions fully and completely and to the best of my ability. The record is very clear Mr. Speaker that I had no determinative role, I had a recommendation role as a local member of parliament but the decisions were made by the minister of transportation and infrastructure," Clement said.

He also said that documentation under his purview was provided to the auditor general's office. The auditor general conducted an audit that found a lack of a paper trail showing how the 32 projects were chosen and that showed the Conservative government asked Parliament to approve spending for a border infrastructure fund and took $50 million from it for the G8 fund without telling MPs. Baird said that was done for expediency because it would have taken too long to set up the framework for an entirely new fund.

more, and then you can all go back to what you were doing, nothing to see here:

Clement stands by G8 testimony - Politics - CBC News
What a douchebag.
Denial and heads in the sand. SOP #1

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