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

August 26, 2015 12:57 PM

The Federal Election Commission has refused to release a cybersecurity report over claims that doing so could expose vulnerabilities in its computer systems.

FEC chairwoman Ann Ravel said on Thursday that the agency would not release the report because of concerns "that it contains information" detailing "potential vulnerabilities." The agency had previously denied a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Center for Public Integrity, a left-of-center nonprofit that engages in investigative journalism, to make the $199,500 analysis of the FEC's systems public. Continue>>>


August 19, 2015 9:44 AM

WHAT: Push, Pull and Spill: A Transdisciplinary Case Study in Municipal Open Government, a report by the University of Washington School of Law.

WHY: The push to open more government data at state and local levels led a cross-disciplinary team of researchers to assess open government efforts in Seattle. The analysis explored the city’s open data procedures, and their implications for privacy, public trust and citywide impact.  Continue>>>


August 17, 2015 12:13 PM

When the conversation turns to government and technology, all too frequently the narrative becomes one of hopelessness., the ancient computer sitting on the desk at the DMV, and the recent attacks by hackers on various government departments all help to reinforce this story of futility. And, inevitably, the questions get framed as, “Why can’t government be more like”—insert your favorite technology company here, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc.  Continue>>>


August 17, 2015 12:06 PM

BOSTON — Voters could decide next year if lawmakers must comply with the state’s open government laws — a move that watchdogs say is long overdue.

A measure filed with the state attorney general’s office, if certified for the November 2016 ballot, asks voters to weigh in on the debate over public access to meetings and records in the Legislature, which now holds most of its caucuses and other meetings behind closed doors.  Continue>>>


August 4, 2015 2:01 PM

Public affairs experts say easy and constant access by citizens to important government information, referred to as government transparency, is vital for good governance as well as the perception by citizens that the government is trustworthy. However, many local governments suffer from a lack of transparency.

Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that county governments in densely populated urban areas tend to be more transparent on their official websites if their citizens have good Internet access. Continue>>>


August 4, 2015 1:42 PM

Outside the mayor’s conference room, the line of D.C. cabinet secretaries and agency directors stretched down the hall. Each studied notes and prepared excuses, like schoolchildren awaiting a turn before the principal.

Inside, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) had begun the two-hour inquisition. At issue, however, was something more serious than a schoolyard dispute: more than $1.3 billion in mishandled taxpayer contracts.  Continue>>>


July 29, 2015 12:47 PM

Attorney General Brad Schimel began his first meeting on open government issues by addressing the "elephant in the room."

"Messing with open government laws is like touching the third rail," Schimel told a crowd of more than 100 on Wednesday morning at the Madison Concourse Hotel. "I think that experience ... well, it's been learned recently."  Continue>>>


July 28, 2015 9:33 AM

BOSTON — Reform of the decades-old public records law is getting strong support on Beacon Hill, but many lawmakers balk at lifting exemptions to open-government laws that shield much of their work from public view.

Lawmakers could vote this week on a proposal filed by Sen. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, and Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton to limit fees for requests for government records. It directs cities, towns and government agencies to appoint someone to handle such requests and make available electronic versions of documents.  Continue>>>


July 27, 2015 9:49 AM

Attorney General Brad Schimel is starting the substantial task of updating the state’s open records law at a time when voices of outrage are still reverberating in the Capitol’s halls over a recent unsuccessful attempt by leading lawmakers to significantly diminish public scrutiny.

“This is a big beast,” said Schimel of the task, who has said since he was elected in November he wanted to update the state’s open records law for the first time since 1981 to, in part, better reflect government officials’ use of modern technology.  Continue>>>


July 22, 2015 9:57 AM

The state attorney general will be holding a summit next week for those who are interested in learning about transparency and accountability in government.

The summit, scheduled for July 31 from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Roger Williams University School of Law, will be free and open to the public. Continue>>>


July 21, 2015 8:48 AM

LOS ANGELES — When the reporter Jason Leopold gets ready to take on the United States government, he psychs himself up by listening to the heavy metal bands Slayer and Pantera.

Mr. Leopold describes himself as “a pretty rageful guy.” He argued recently with staff members at his son’s preschool because he objected to their references to “Indians” and they objected to his wearing family-unfriendly punk rock T-shirts to school meetings.  Continue>>>


July 20, 2015 9:52 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched the first in a new series of monthly reports to highlight key trends from consumer complaints submitted to the Bureau. The monthly report includes complaint data on company performance, complaint volume, state and local information, and product trends. Each month, the report will spotlight a particular product and geographic location – this report provides a closer look at debt collection complaints and complaints from consumers in Milwaukee, Wis. The reports will provide insight for the public into the hundreds of thousands of consumer complaints on financial products and services handled by the CFPB.

“Consumer complaints are the CFPB’s compass and play a central role in everything we do. They help us identify and prioritize problems for potential action,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “These monthly reports will enable us to share that data with the public more regularly, so that everyone can benefit from the information.”  Continue>>>


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