FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit

September 19, 2011 10:07 AM

September 19, 2011


ST. PETE BEACH — A newly amended lawsuit against the city seeks to reverse both a March referendum and a June commission decision, saying the two votes stemmed from conversations that violated the Sunshine Law.

In the referendum, residents repealed a requirement that voters approve development rules involving height and density.

See this earlier NFOIC release for more background to this story.

September 16, 2011 3:14 PM

A few items selected from many of interest in the last few days.

The FOIA Wars: Just how open is our "open government?"

"American democracy has a disease, and it's called secrecy." So begins a July 2011 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report on secrecy laws and the security establishment's heavy-handed use of the classified stamp.

Visit for the rest.

Journalism, consumer groups protest removal of doctor information

Open government advocates urged the Obama administration [Thursday] to restore a public database of doctor discipline and malpractice records.

Visit for the rest.

Is open data a good idea for the Open Government Partnership?

Global Integrity is working to promote the new Open Government Partnership by serving as the OGP’s Networking Mechanism, which aims to connect aspiring OGP governments with providers of open government expertise (whether governments, civil society organizations, or private companies) to help those aspiring governments develop innovative, “stretch” open government commitments.

Visit for the rest.

Don't give up openness for efficiency

When does electronic efficiency in government begin to trample on government in the sunshine? That’s one of the issues the administration of Gov. Bob McDonnell is wrestling with these days at the state capital. There is no easy answer, especially if the public wants to keep an eye on business conducted by the variety of state boards and commissions that oversee life in the Old Dominion.

Visit News & Advance for the rest.

Berlin is the first German state to launch an open government data platform

According to German entrepreneur Anke Domscheit-Berg, Berlin is the first German state to have an open data platform.

Visit gov20.govfresh for the rest.

Report: 160,000 deported without facing judge

Over the course of seven years, 160,000 immigrants have been deported without ever facing a judge, a new report (PDF) reveals. Issued by the National Immigration Law Center, the report charges that the U.S. has used something called "stipulated removal" to strong arm immigrants into signing away their due process.

Visit NPR for the rest.

Wyoming's public records law could see drastic changes

Open records proponents say proposed changes to Wyoming’s public records law are much too extreme – one expert called them a disaster - but those responsible for the draft language say the existing laws are antiquated and often cause confusion.

Visit for the rest.

September 16, 2011 9:26 AM

September 16, 2011

From the Politico:

Gov. Rick Perry’s straight talk may have made him an instant star of the Republican presidential field, but even some of his supporters say his frank one-liners don’t reflect his governing style in Texas, where Perry has been criticized as one of the most secretive governors in the country.

At home, Perry has fought for years to keep even mundane details of his schedule, spending and decision-making away from reporters and the public.

eds. -- NFOIC Executive Director Ken Bunting is quoted and NFOIC studies are cited in this POLITICO story.

September 16, 2011 9:22 AM

September 16, 2011

From the Billings Gazette:

HELENA — Does a government worker suspected of stealing from her employer have a privacy right that outweighs the public’s right to know?

That was the question Wednesday before the Montana Supreme Court as the seven justices heard oral arguments in the case involving a former Billings Police Department employee who resigned last year amid theft allegations.

September 16, 2011 9:18 AM

September 16, 2011

From the Walton Sun:

If you want to know more about public records and how to obtain them, you need to be at the First Amendment Foundation's annual Sunshine Seminar in Panama City on Tuesday.

The one day seminar at FSU-PC's Holley Center gives an overview of Florida’s public records and public meetings requirements, providing information for anyone who uses public records.

eds. -- The First Amendment Foundation is a member of NFOIC.

September 14, 2011 11:12 AM

September 14, 2011

From Mo. Attorney General's Office:

Jefferson City, Mo. - A free workshop pertaining to the Missouri Sunshine Law will be held on Tuesday, September 20 at 9:00 a.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd floor, City of Overland, 9119 Lackland Road, Overland, Mo. 63114. The public is invited to attend, along with all interested elected officials and members of boards and commissions.

A separate workshop for law enforcement personnel will be held at the same location at 10:30 a.m. The one-hour classes will be conducted by Tom Durkin, public education director for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.

September 14, 2011 11:05 AM

September 14, 2011

From Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press:

Washington, D.C. — The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today published the 6th Edition of its Open Government Guide, a comprehensive overview of open records and open meetings laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The guide is available free on the Reporters Committee website at, where users can cross-reference and compare the laws in different states or simply get an in-depth analysis of one state. A CD version of the entire guide and hard copies of each state’s section also can be ordered from the Reporters Committee for a small fee.

Each state’s outline is prepared by attorney volunteers who are experts in access law; most have worked on earlier editions of the guide.

September 14, 2011 11:02 AM

September 14, 2011

From The Atlantic:

As the 2012 campaign season draws near, one of the major questions is what impact corporate spending will have on the balance of power in Washington and around the country. Money has been an increasingly important factor in American politics in the last 50 years, as big businesses ramped up their campaign contributions and lobbying to fight off a perceived wave of liberal, union-backed legislation that crested during the Nixon administration.

But the past three years have shown the naked face of corporate money in politics, as businesses have come out swinging against financial reform, health care reform, climate change legislation, and just about anything else proposed by the Obama administration.

September 14, 2011 10:59 AM

September 14, 2011

From Politico:

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Central Intelligence Agency does not have to release any records related to its use of unmanned drone aircraft to kill suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Ruling in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Judge Rosemary Collyer said records about the use of drones could be withheld under the rubric of "intelligence sources and methods." She rejected the ACLU's arguments that lethal drones aren't really involved in acquiring intelligence.

September 14, 2011 10:53 AM

September 14, 2011

From Informationweek:

Most people prefer to use their PCs to interact with the federal government online or through email, although they still expect the feds to provide multiple channels for delivering services and information, according to new research by IDC.

Over a third--36%--of respondents to a new survey from IDC Government Insights, "Creating More Effective Government Information and Service Channels," said that they prefer to contact the government through their computers. IDC spoke to 2,048 U.S. citizens to glean insight about how frequently they interact with the government and how they like to engage in this communication.

September 12, 2011 2:16 PM

September 12, 2011

From nextgov:

An unofficial analysis of the roughly 1,800 top-level federal Web domains shows nearly a quarter of them are now unreachable.

That may mean those sites have been shut down or that their content has been consolidated into larger sites in accordance with a White House plan to drastically cut the federal Web presence over the coming year, said Benjamin Balter, a new technology fellow at the Federal Communications Commission and graduate student at The George Washington University who designed the analysis tool as a personal project.

Visit for the rest.

September 9, 2011 12:39 PM

September 9, 2011

From The Hill:

A group of Senate Republicans are demanding the supercommittee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in budget savings make all its deliberations public ... and provide streaming video or audio of each moment of its deliberation.

The supercommittee met for the first time Thursday and voted to allow some private meetings.

Visit The Hill for the rest.

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