FOI Advocate News Blog

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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

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>>>


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>>>



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>>>


July 6, 2015 8:28 AM

LINCOLN — A judge may soon have to decide whether Nebraska’s public records law can be used to shine light on the internal workings of the judicial branch.

A recent lawsuit over documents related to judicial training has the potential to springboard into the broader issue of government transparency, said Omaha attorney Steve Grasz, who represents the Lincoln doctor who brought the lawsuit.  Continue>>>


July 2, 2015 9:48 AM

When lawmakers race to pass budgets and bills by working into the early morning hours, as they did Tuesday and Wednesday, advocates of open government say they are working in the dark in more ways than one.

Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center says unless people are inside the Capitol building in Olympia as policymakers craft last-minute changes to important legislation, they “have no idea what’s going on.”  Continue>>>


July 2, 2015 9:26 AM

If there's something you want to know and it's considered public record, getting the information is now easier and cheaper than ever.

Significant revisions to Michigan's Freedom of Information Act went into full effect today.  Continue>>>


July 2, 2015 9:18 AM

Open records requests and lawsuits go hand-in-hand. Agencies obfuscate, stall, perform deliberately inadequate searches and fail to respond in a timely manner. These actions frequently result in lawsuits, which are notably almost always filed by the requester. 

The Hamilton Township of New Jersey isn't like other government agencies. It's far more proactive.  Continue>>>


July 1, 2015 3:47 PM

As the D.C. Council took final action on the 2016 budget, marchers picketed in front of the Wilson Building Tuesday (30) chanting "Open Government Now."  

Inside, Council members agreed, sort of.

They did vote, as the Coalition has long advocated, that video from police cameras will be public under rules now in development and -- unfazed by huge but hazy cost estimates revealed behind closed doors last week -- told the mayor to just find the money to get the job done. (On this vote and related back story, see Coalition report here; Abigail Hauslohner's Washington Post account here.)  Continue>>>


July 1, 2015 9:26 AM

(CN) - Two professors are entitled to lower processing fees for a public records request because its purpose is educational and journalistic, a federal judge ruled.

Syracuse University professors Susan Long and David Burnham filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, in November 2013, seeking electronic data from the ICE database. Long and Burnham's request was filed on behalf of Syracuse's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, or TRAC.  Continue>>>


July 1, 2015 9:15 AM

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s effort to outfit District police officers with body cameras hit a fresh obstacle Tuesday, when council members tried to block implementation of the program next year unless she ensures public transparency.

The D.C. Council voted Tuesday on the final details of the city’s 2016 budget — and included an amendment dictating that Bowser’s rollout of 1,200 additional police body cameras move forward only if she finds an estimated $1.5 million to cover the cost of Freedom of Information Act requests for footage.  Continue>>>


July 1, 2015 9:11 AM

The D.C. Council insisted in the Budget Support Act passed June 30 that police body-worn camera video be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

It refused to give the Metropolitan Police Department and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser what they wanted, a statute declaring that BWC videos are not public records and cannot be requested under the FOI Act. It also refused to give in to dire claims that it will cost $1.5 million annually to process FOIA requests for BWC video and to redact recordings to protect personal privacy and law enforcement investigations.  Continue>>>


June 30, 2015 3:00 PM

The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) filed a lawsuit (Docket No. MER-L-11-15) against the Trenton Board of Education earlier this year.  The suit involves multiple violations of the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).  

NJFOG previously announced that OPRA counts were decided in our favor, with a hearing on OPMA counts scheduled on June 29, 2015.  Continue>>>


New Jersey, NJFOG, OPMA
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