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 http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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July 10, 2015 1:51 PM

With considerable discussion and side events expected next week at the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the importance of transparency and open data, it is worth noting recent improvement within our own government that strengthens our voice on data transparency.

USAID, the principal U.S. development agency, while more accustomed to using data than most U.S. foreign affairs agencies, has been unexpectedly slow on the uptake on data transparency. But uptake has now occurred.  Continue>>>

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July 10, 2015 11:37 AM

CLEVELAND – Five months after their initial roll out, police body cameras are now in four of Cleveland’s five police districts. Police are asking for public feedback through an online survey as some question whether the program is achieving its goals, which include accountability and transparency.

Officers in Cleveland’s Fourth District first started wearing the cameras in February. By the end of this week, police leaders said 54 percent of implementation will be completed, with more than 800 cameras in use. Officials said there have been only minor issues with the deployment, so far.  Continue>>>

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July 10, 2015 11:21 AM

DINWIDDIE — Dinwiddie County was one of only 10 counties in the state to receive an “A+” rating for transparency between the people and government.

“When this board took office four years ago, one of our top priorities was to increase the level of transparency in Dinwiddie County government,” said Dan Lee, Board of Supervisors chairman. “The updated rating is evidence of what we have accomplished by working together with each other, administration, staff and the citizens of Dinwiddie County.”  Continue>>>

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July 9, 2015 1:40 PM

Score one for transparency.

State senators apparently have eliminated a loophole in Right-to-Know legislation that would have enabled Pennsylvania’s state-related universities to shield from the public many of their highest employee salaries.  Continue>>>

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July 9, 2015 1:32 PM

A bill intended to bring increased transparency to the California Public Utilities Commission passed the California Senate Energy Committee Tuesday.

Assembly Bill 825, introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), would establish an independent authority to investigate the CPUC. It would also create a Public Advisor within the Commission to put transparency measures in place.  Continue>>>

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July 9, 2015 9:17 AM

The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) on May 29 filed suit in Union County Superior Court against the Summit Housing Authority and its Custodian of Records alleging violations of the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).

A hearing to address the OPRA counts in the case (Docket No. UNN-L-1927-15) is scheduled for July 10 at 10:00 a.m. before Judge James Hely, J.S.C.  OPMA counts will be addressed at a later date.  Continue>>>

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July 8, 2015 11:47 AM

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government has named four, including Albuquerque Journal Editor Kent Walz, to receive the group’s top honor for open government, the Dixon First Amendment Award.

The award honors the memory of FOG co-founder and longtime board member William S. Dixon, an Albuquerque attorney and leading defender of the First Amendment and the sunshine laws in New Mexico.  Continue>>>

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July 8, 2015 11:29 AM

The FCC has set comment deadlines on its request for input on whether it should maintain a temporary exemption from enhanced transparency requirements under its new Title II-based network neutrality rules.

Comments will be due Aug. 5 and reply comments Sept. 4.  Continue>>>

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July 8, 2015 9:36 AM

With the launch of the openFOIA website last month, the National Archives and Records Administration has laid out what information requesters and Freedom of Information Act office workers can get from the three main FOIA-related federal websites.

General Service's Administration's 18F released the openFOIA website to give requesters a central location to learn how to make FOIA requests to any of the 100 federal departments and agencies that process public requests for records.  Continue>>>

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July 7, 2015 9:32 AM

Freedom of Information Act requests often take agencies months to fulfill, by which time some requesters from the media or advocacy groups may have moved on to other pursuits.

The Justice Department on July 2 issued new guidance aimed at improving the procedure known as a “still interested” inquiry, through which a FOIA officer can confirm that the requester has not lost interest in obtaining the documents.  Continue>>>

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July 7, 2015 8:53 AM

While California may be home to some of the most aggressively forward-thinking tech companies in the world, that enthusiasm for innovation hasn’t carried over to the public sector. State and local governments have been frustratingly slow to make public data available online. There hasn’t been anything close to a statewide standard, leaving individual agencies to voluntarily develop open data policies, often in an inconsistent and piecemeal fashion, or not at all.  

That would change if the California legislature passes two bills, S.B. 573 and S.B. 272, which would put state and local government bodies respectively on the path to open data.  Continue>>>

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July 6, 2015 3:19 PM

Sparkling new buildings are in the works in the ongoing modernization of D.C. schools, begun in 2006 and slated for $1.3 billion more in Mayor Muriel Bowser’s six-year plan. But the D.C. Council’s auditor reported Wednesday (1) that the program “failed to comply with D.C. Code and lacks accountability, transparency and basic financial management.”

The auditor’s report, covering $1.2 billion spent in 2010 – 2013, noted the accountable government agencies handed key decisions and oversight to management contractors (paid $37 million) with weak review, bills are paid sometimes with little or no explanation and overruns have been widespread. (For example, the new Duke Ellington School of the Arts building may cost 4-5 times more per square foot than a 2010 master plan called for.)  Continue>>>

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