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 30, 2015 10:26 AM

The first day of testimony began on Wednesday in a trial to decide whether the Sumner County Board of Education violated the Tennessee Public Records Act by not responding to a Joelton man’s email request.

Ken Jakes filed a lawsuit in Sumner County Chancery Court in April 2014 challenging the school board’s policy requiring a citizen wanting to inspect a public document to submit the request in person or via U.S. mail rather than email.  Continue>>>

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July 27, 2015 9:19 AM

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Gov. Dannel Malloy and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill recently announced Connecticut’s website of state regulations has relaunched with a goal of increasing public accessibility and transparency in the state’s regulation process.

Located at eregulations.ct.gov, the website allows users to easily search the state’s regulations using common text searching or advanced Boolean searching, and allows for search filtering to find information faster, according to a press release.  Continue>>>

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July 23, 2015 12:39 PM

Iowa now allows private businesses to cloak their efforts to win state contracts in secrecy, prohibiting taxpayers from reviewing competitive bid details that for decades have been made public.

Specifically, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services allows bidders to submit two versions of their work or sale proposals: one for state executives that is unredacted, and another that’s a “public” file where each private company determines what information it wants the public to see.  Continue>>>

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July 22, 2015 3:47 PM

The Justice Department has no current position on whether first requesters should get a priority look at the documents released before they are made available to the public under a planned “release to one, release to all” policy, according to Melanie Ann Pustay, Director of the Office of Information Policy at the Justice Department.

The timing issue popped up quickly as a hot button topic for scoop-jealous journalists after Justice announced its pilot program to assess the value and costs of more online disclosure of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. (See previous FreedomInfo.org article.) The timing of such online releases will be examined as part of the pilot program being conducted at seven agencies, Pustay said in written answers to questions submitted by FreedomInfo.org.  Continue>>>

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July 21, 2015 9:49 AM

A ruling from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records has thrown a new monkey wrench into the ongoing dispute over Right to Know requests in Centre County.

In May, Centre County Public Defender David Crowley submitted a RTK request seeking phone records of contact between District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and Judge Bradley Lunsford – but that request was denied.  Continue>>>

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July 21, 2015 8:38 AM

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials will once again ascend Capitol Hill to answer lawmakers’ questions about the transit system’s safety and management.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on July 21 to follow-up on questions raised after the deadly incident at the L’Enfant Metro stop in January, where one woman died and dozens were hospitalized after being trapped in a smoke-filled train.  Continue>>>

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July 17, 2015 2:25 PM

WHEN THE DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER Laura Poitras filed a complaint under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against three US government agencies this week, most media outlets ran stories on the details that built her argument, overlooking the issue of public records.

After all, who could resist the story of a bitter and burned federal government hounding a journalist who appeared to have crossed some unspoken line? More than 50 times between 2006 and 2012, her lawsuit alleges, security forces targeted the journalist for intense rounds of detention and questioning. Government officials had, at one point, even confiscated her laptop, cellphone, and notebooks. Continue>>>

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July 14, 2015 11:36 AM

It didn't take long for journalists to criticize the flaw -- for them -- in the federal government's new pilot program on making public all responses to Freedom of Information Act requests. It didn't take much longer for open government advocates to suggest the reporters were putting their interests ahead of the public's.

"Get this," tweeted Erik Wemple, media critic at The Washington Post. "Federal government is implementing a FOIA reform that could actually hurt journos."  Continue>>>

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July 14, 2015 9:23 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The agency in charge of school modernization mismanaged money, an audit shows, and questions about ensuring financial transparency and accountability remain.

Some of the money, the audit says, is missing.  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 6, 2015 8:45 AM

In the face of withering criticism, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican leaders of the Legislature announced Saturday that a provision added to the state budget to gut the open records law “will be removed from the budget in its entirety.”

Walker made the announcement Saturday afternoon in a joint statement with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Joint Finance Committee co-Chairs, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.  Continue>>>

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July 6, 2015 8:33 AM

So far this year, more than a dozen Baltimore County officers have been involved in shootings in which civilians were killed or injured — but none of the officers' full names have been released by the police department.

Because of a decade-old provision in the county's contract with the local police union, the Police Department only releases an officer's last name, rank, assignment and length of service. The arrangement is unique in the Baltimore region, where most large departments, including Baltimore City's, routinely release the full names of officers involved in shootings.  Continue>>>

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