Business Anti-Corruption Portal

The Global Advice Network and various European ministries of foreign affairs and development have created the Business Anti-Corruption Portal.

http://www.business-anti-corruption.com/

From the portal’s description:

Welcome to the Business Anti-Corruption Portal, a comprehensive and practical tool tailored to meet the corruption risk management needs of small and medium sized companies (SMEs) operating in or considering doing business in emerging markets and developing countries.

The Portal is hosted, maintained and regularly updated by Global Advice Network on behalf of the government ministries and agencies. The Portal’s content is based on publicly available information. Global Advice Network strives to ensure that all content available on this website is accurate.

The purpose of the Business Anti-Corruption Portal (Portal) is to provide a comprehensive and practical business tool, and to offer targeted support to SMEs in order to help them avoid and fight corruption, thereby creating a better business environment. Working actively against corruption will furthermore enable companies to adhere to the UN Global Compact Principle 10 on corruption.

Comprehensive, Practical Business Tools

The Portal contains a variety of instruments and information, which can be used alone or in combination. Some tools are new, while others are well-known procedures and methods adapted to SMEs.

  • About Corruption: Definitions, interpretations and references to international and national legislation and initiatives relevant to companies. Includes business and corruption vocabulary and definitions.
  • 60 Country Profiles: Key business and corruption related information. Overview of level of enforcement of anti-corruption law, public and private anti-corruption initiatives is provided. Detailed information and corruption risk assessment in eight business sectors: 1) Judicial System, 2) Police, 3) Licences, Infrastructure and Public Utilities, 4) Land Administration, 5) Customs Administration, 6) Tax Administration, 7) Public Procurement and Contracting, and 8) Environment, Natural Resources and Extractive Industry.
  • Integrity System: A model Code of Conduct, examples of key procedures, a guidance question list and a model risk assessment tool.
  • Due Diligence Tools: Related to public procurement, seeking and vetting an agent or a consultant, setting up a joint venture, dealing with contractors or subcontractors and implementing a project.
  • Anti-Corruption Initiatives: A presentation of partner countries and other anti-corruption initiatives.
  • Information Networks: Contact information to turn to for local help.
  • Anti-Corruption Tools Inventory: A full list of anti-corruption conventions and treaties, a list of public and private initiatives and initiatives in partner countries, resources on grey area questions, corruption cases, reporting, sector-specific anti-corruption resources, useful links and more.
  • Training: Various business anti-corruption training modules, including e-learning programmes.

Public Means Online

Today’s Washington Post features an editorial supporting the new Public Online Information Act, H.R. 4858.

[Rep. Steve Israel, D-NY] “has introduced the Public Online Information Act (POIA), a sensible and modest bill that could nevertheless be a catalyst for important changes in how the federal government thinks about and handles public information. It could also lead to greater transparency in the workings of the government.”

As the folks at the Sunlight Foundation have noted: “public means online.”

However, the realities of getting the bill passed means that it does have its limits.  Most notably, “public information generated by Congress, including real-time lobbying registrations, is exempt from the mandatory provision, as are public filings within the judicial branch.”

But with Law.gov and other transparency efforts ongoing, we can be hopeful for even bigger changes down the road.

Yesterday, Carl Malamud gave a rousing talk to the NOCALL Spring Institute about Law.gov.

[By the way, NOCALL throws down an amazing Spring Institute every year -- this year was no exception!  Besides the terrific parties, they always pull in a great range of speakers and topics, from Ryan Calo (on Privacy Tools) to Mark Sirkin (on New Roles in the Law Firm of the Future).  Many attendees spoke highly of the forum on the Google Book Settlement, featuring Mary Minow, Gary Reback and Andrew Bridges.  On Saturday, I enjoyed demonstrating the awesome RECAP plug-in -- hopefully, more folks will be downloading PACER court documents to the archive. ]

Malamud’s inspirational Law.gov talk got the crowd buzzing.  NOCALL members are already involved in the prototype of a national law inventory for the Law.gov effort.  And, invigorating talks like this one should help spread the word and add more volunteers to the project.    As Malamud mentioned, the inventory will help provide key metrics for the Law.gov report (for example: how many municipalities assert copyright over their regulations).

While the California legal inventory is now underway, more work is needed [READ: please contact me if you would like to volunteer to help!].  And, other AALL chapters/working groups should be starting their legal inventory projects very shortly.

For those who are still curious about Law.gov and for those who are contemplating volunteering for their own state legal inventory project(s), I encourage you to view at least one of Malamud’s Law.gov talks online and/or read his “By the People” pamphlet.

Stay tuned…As “public means online’, Law.gov equals change.

Increasing Public Access to Government Data and Laws

Our friend and hero Carl Malamud is quoted in a “special report on managing information” from the February 25, 2010 issue of The Economist.

We’ll be making the article, “The open society: Governments are letting in the light,” required reading for our advanced legal research class.

The article discusses efforts and impediments, at both the local and national level, to making government information freely available.

Locally the article quotes San Francisco CIO Chris Vein on how “providing more information can make government more efficient.”  An example is a site called San Francisco Crimespotting “that layers historical crime figures on top of map information.”  The article notes that “[o]ther cities, including New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, are racing ahead as well.”

The article goes on to say that “[o]ther parts of the world are also beginning to move to greater openness.  A European Commission directive in 2005 called for making public-sector information more accessible.”

The article also discusses some of the impediments, such as Crown copyright where “in Britain and the Commonwealth countries most government data is state property” and there are use constraints, and PACER’s paywall.

The direction is for more openness and for “new forms of collaboration between the public and private sectors.”  And as the article concludes:

John Stuart Mill in 1861 called for “the widest participation in the details of judicial and administrative business . . . above all by the utmost possible publicity.” These days, that includes the greatest possible disclosure of data by electronic means.

The One-Way Mirror: Enhancing Participation and Securing Privacy for Government 2.0

“The One-Way Mirror: Enhancing Participation and Securing Privacy for Government 2.0″

Danielle Keats Citron
University of Maryland School of Law

Maryland Legal Scholarship Network RPS
University of Maryland – School of Law

George Washington Law Review, Vol. 78, 2010
University of Maryland Legal Studies Research, 2009-41

Abstract:     
The public can now “friend” the White House and scores of agencies on social networks, virtual worlds, and video-sharing sites. The Obama Administration sees this trend as crucial to enhancing governmental transparency, public participation, and collaboration. As the President has underscored, government needs to tap into the public’s expertise because it doesn’t have all of the answers. To be sure, Government 2.0 might improve civic engagement. But it also might produce privacy vulnerabilities because agencies often gain access to individuals’ social network profiles, photographs, videos, and contact lists when interacting with individuals online. Little would prevent agencies from using and sharing individuals’ social media data for more than policymaking, including law enforcement, immigration, tax, and benefits matters. Although people may be prepared to share their views on health care and the environment with agencies and executive departments, they may be dismayed to learn that such policy collaborations carry a risk of government surveillance. This essay argues that government should refrain from accessing individuals’ social media data on Government 2.0 sites. Agencies should treat these sites as one-way mirrors, where individuals can see government’s activities and engage in policy discussions but where government cannot use, collect, or distribute individuals’ social media information. A “one-way mirror” policy would facilitate democratic discourse, enhance government accountability, and protect privacy.

Source:  LSN Information Privacy Law Vol. 2 No. 41,  11/09/2009

Larry Lessig’s “Naked transparency movement”

Against Transparency – The perils of openness in government by Lawrence Lessig

“How could anyone be against transparency? Its virtues and its utilities seem so crushingly obvious. But I have increasingly come to worry that there is an error at the core of this unquestioned goodness. We are not thinking critically enough about where and when transparency works, and where and when it may lead to confusion, or to worse. And I fear that the inevitable success of this movement–if pursued alone, without any sensitivity to the full complexity of the idea of perfect openness–will inspire not reform, but disgust. The “naked transparency movement,” as I will call it here, is not going to inspire change. It will simply push any faith in our political system over the cliff.”

http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency

Source:  

The Intersect Alert is a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association

http://units.sla.org/chapter/csfo/csfo.html

Clear as Mud: How the Uncertain Precedential Status of Unpublished Opinions Muddles Qualified Immunity Determinations

“Clear as Mud: How the Uncertain Precedential Status of Unpublished Opinions Muddles Qualified Immunity Determinations”

DAVID R. CLEVELAND, Nova Southeastern University – Shepard Broad Law Center

Denying precedential status to unpublished opinions muddles the already unclear law surrounding qualified immunity. Government officials may claim qualified immunity as a defense to claims that they have violated a person’s civil rights. The test is whether they have violated “clearly established law.” The federal circuits differ on whether unpublished opinions may be used in determining clearly established law. This article, Clear as Mud: How the Uncertain Precedential Status of Unpublished Opinions Muddles Qualified Immunity Determinations, argues that unpublished opinions are ideal sources for determining what law is clearly established. The article reviews the purpose of both civil rights actions against government officials and the qualified immunity defense available to such officials. It also analyzes the characteristics of unpublished opinions and finds them, by definition, to be ideal sources to help determine the clearly established law. It then examines the circuit courts’ variation in the use of unpublished opinions in their qualified immunity analyses. Finally, it proposes a resolution to this problematic circuit split through jurisprudential or rulemaking means. Opinions that are issued as unpublished are by definition clearly established law; opinions that make new law or expand or contract existing law must be published under the federal circuit rules. Denying precedential status to unpublished opinions has relegated these opinions to a second class status, which is unjustified and unconstitutional, but also obfuscates their inherent suitability to demonstrate clearly established law.

 

Source:  LSN Law & Courts Vol. 3 No. 59,  09/07/2009

Geeks seek to make the law Googleable; RECAP in WSJ

Buried on page W13 of today’s Wall Street Journal  is a must-read piece by Katherine Mangu-Ward, “Transparency Chic.”

As the author makes clear:

. . . no aspect of government remains more locked down than the secretive, hierarchical judicial branch. Digital records of court filings, briefs and transcripts sit behind paywalls like Lexis and Westlaw. Legal codes and judicial documents aren’t copyrighted, but governments often cut exclusive distribution deals, rendering other access methods a bit legally questionable. . . .

Which leads her to discuss RECAP:

. . . [Stephen Schultz, Tim Lee and Harlan Wu] whipped up a sleek little add-on to the popular Firefox Internet browser called RECAP (PACER spelled backward). Legit users of the federal court system download it. Then each time they drop eight pennies, it deposits a copy of the page in the free Internet archive. This data joins other poached information, all of which is formatted, relabeled and made searchable—the kind of customer service government tends to skimp on. . . .

This might be the first mainstream press mention of RECAP, which is something we are all abuzz about here.

The author of the Wall Street Journal piece, Katherine Mangu-Ward, a senior editor at Reason magazine, is apparently a bit of a geek herself, giving a Twitter shoutout to those who helped her write the piece:

@kmanguward Thanks @binarybits @carlmalamud @cshirky @evwayne for info, perspective, and snappy quotes in “Transparency Chic” http://tinyurl.com/navyvj

@evwayne is, of course, our very own Erika Wayne who was interviewed for the piece.

Transparency Corps

Jonathan Zittrain presented the Keynote Address for the AALL 2009 conference on Sunday, July 26th.  And, the talk was really energizing.

Zittrain mentioned quite a few examples of the web matching all manner of projects with interested people.

One really noteworthy project along those lines has been developed by the Sunlight FoundationTransparency Corps is a chance for any one of us to do a little and contribute quite a lot.  As the site states:

“Transparency Corps is the Sunlight Foundation’s answer to the question, “How can I help?”.  There are many big problems that we can solve with technology, but we can’t solve them all. For many of the projects that make government transparency a reality, human eyes and analysis are required. With Transparency Corps, we break those tasks down into short, small actions that make a BIG difference. Join the Corps, and let’s get started!”

I decided to join, and in very short order I moved from the ‘novice’ level to the impressive ‘hunter’ level.  Maybe someday, I can be a ‘Transparency Master’.  Any transparency warlords in our midst?

Data.gov and GovFresh.com

Remixing government data

“Last year, before he took on the role of federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra came up with a new twist on the idea of government by the people: Let the people build some public-facing online government applications. . . Of course, repackaging government data for education and profit is nothing new. Dozens of businesses generate income by deciphering the notices that fly across the Federal Register and Federal Business Opportunities Web sites every day. But a recent confluence of technical and political factors portends a much wider use of government data. With Web 2.0 technology, anyone with some coding skills can make their own use of well-formed government data. And with the Obama administration calling for greater government transparency, Kundra wants to replicate D.C.’s success on a national level via the soon-to-be-launched Data.gov site.”

http://gcn.com/Articles/2009/05/04/Data-democratized.aspx

 

New Consolidated Government Information Stream

Launched May 3rd, GovFresh “is a live feed of official news from U.S. Government Twitter, YouTube, RSS, Facebook, Flickr accounts and more, all in one place.”

http://govfresh.com/

As an instructor of Advanced Legal Research I find the updates from the Law Revision Counsel to be particularly useful.  For example:

US Code: House has passed H.R. 1107, to enact Title 41 (Public Contracts) as positive law. For details of the bill, see http://bit.ly/xKKi5

 

Source: The Intersect Alert, a newsletter of the Government Relations Committee, San Francisco Bay Region Chapter, Special Libraries Association.

http://units.sla.org/chapter/csfo/csfo.html

Citability – Help Solve Link Rot…

We have lamented here about the headaches that link rot causes…Who doesn’t get annoyed by the web link that no longer works?

But, the folks at Citability.org are trying to do something about it.

Their basic goal is very simple and compelling: to have the government create advanced permalinks on a paragraph level to all public government documents.

The beauty of a permalink is quite obvious; and, any fan of public-domain, vendor neutral citation should be pleased by the paragraph level specificity of these links.

Here is an example and explanation  from their site:

“Permalinks are human-readable URLs with timestamps, document ID, and an an anchor to the section/paragraph:
Example: http://archive.senate.gov/20090502082437/bills/SB1234#S1b1Bii.  The example would point to section 1, subsection b, chapter 1, paragraph B, clause ii in SB 1234 on May 2, 2009 at 8:26:16 am UTC”

If you are interested in lending your support, visit their site.  Also, visit http://citability.pbworks.com if you would like to help promote or give feedback on some of the standards that they are suggesting.