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 27, 2015 12:41 PM

North Dakota has very strong transparency laws that make, with few exceptions, just about every government record and meeting completely open to the public. In many ways, North Dakota’s open records and open meetings laws could be a model for other states.

Yet there’s always room for improvement. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, a Republican, has formed a task force to review current law and make recommendations for improvements. I am happy to be one member of that task force, and these are some of the areas I think the state’s transparency laws could be improved. Continue>>>


August 25, 2015 11:33 AM

Twitter has blocked 31 transparency-seeking accounts from accessing its developer API. These accounts all archived and made public the deleted tweets of powerful people like politicians. Twitter’s actually been doing this for a while now.

Back in June, Twitter revoked API access from the popular Politwoops account that was run by the Sunlight Foundation. This latest round of pseudo-censorship targets the UK’s Open State Foundation, which operated the accounts in question. The British organisation’s accounts logged the deleted tweets of persons in power in over 30 countries around the world.  Continue>>>


August 24, 2015 12:53 PM

Twitter has shut off access to 31 accounts that chronicled and archived the deleted tweets of politicians, diplomats and embassies around the world.

The move follows the social network’s earlier blocking of Politwoops US, which archived deleted tweets by American lawmakers. Continue>>>


August 24, 2015 9:05 AM

Sponsors of legislation that would create an Ethics Commission in Vermont say they're optimistic that their proposal will become law during the 2016 session.

Vermont is a national leader on many issues, but transparency of state government isn't one of them. The Center for Public Integrity gave Vermont a D+ grade because Vermont is one of just three states in the country that does not have an ethics commission or a financial disclosure policy for all elected officials.  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 12:06 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 14, 2015 10:55 AM

The five finalists in the Census Bureau’s open data challenge showcased their apps during the bureau’s first ever National Demo Day on Aug. 13, highlighting how they used open data from the census to tackle a multitude of social problems.

During the webinar presentation, Census Bureau CTO Avi Bender Commerce Department Chief Data Officer Ian Kalin said they hoped federal agencies would take note of the solutions.  Continue>>>


August 13, 2015 1:32 PM

Dozens of journalist and open government groups implied this week that President Obama has failed to live up to his promise to be the most open government in history, and called on him to make the workings of the federal government more accessible to journalists and watchdogs.

"When you first entered office you pledged to become the most transparent president in history," they wrote. "It is not too late to fulfill that promise."  Continue>>>


August 10, 2015 11:26 AM

During City Council’s priority-setting retreat this spring, it asked staff to develop an open data program. Our chief information officer, Dan Coldiron, jumped at the chance and is developing a new initiative in Fort Collins called “OpenCity.”

The city of Fort Collins values transparency and community engagement. The organization demonstrated those values in 2009 with a fairly bold move, making our expense records available online through our Open Book application. We weren’t sure what to expect, because it was sort of like opening your checkbook up to all of your friends and neighbors.  Continue>>>


August 7, 2015 12:00 PM

RALEIGH — There are some really good things on the table as the budget conferees discuss, debate, compromise, and finalize North Carolina’s government spending for the next two years. 

Allocating more than $22 billion each year in General Fund revenue is a big deal. Adding money from the federal government and other sources, state spending each year becomes a $50 billion big deal.  Continue>>>


August 6, 2015 11:22 AM

BOSTON (AP) — Muslim groups and civil rights activists across the nation are calling for greater transparency in a program by President Barack Obama's administration that's aimed at countering homegrown terrorism.

The organizers are speaking out Thursday through coordinated efforts in Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, the three cities where the Countering Violent Extremism program is being piloted.  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>>>


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