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 25, 2016 12:13 PM

Conventional wisdom holds that one strategy for improving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process is to routinely publish agency records that might be of interest to the public. The term of art FOIA enthusiasts use for publishing agency information before anyone makes a FOIA request is proactive disclosure.

We at OGIS make it a priority to help the public better understand our work by making certain types of information available. Continue...


August 25, 2016 11:57 AM

The continued scrutiny over Hillary Clinton's emails is raising new questions about her candidness. But both she and her Republican opponent Donald Trump have been criticized by members of their own parties for failing to be open and transparent. Continue...


August 25, 2016 11:50 AM

A federal judge has ordered Glenn Beck to disclose the names of confidential sources he used in his reporting that a Saudi Arabian man was involved in the Boston Marathon bombing. The man sued Beck for defamation after he was cleared of any involvement.

Journalist and filmmaker Mark Boal, who wrote and produced The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, has asked a judge to block a subpoena threatened by military prosecutors who want to obtain his confidential or unpublished interviews with US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, accused of being a deserter. Continue...


August 24, 2016 12:30 PM

Over the last seven years, President Obama has been committed to building an economy where, if you work hard and play by the rules, you have a decent shot at success.

The Fair Pay Safe Workplaces final rule and guidance issued today rewards federal contractors who do just that – work hard and play by the rules – on behalf of the millions of Americans who work for them. This rule also benefits the responsible contractors – the vast majority of them – who are doing the right thing, so that they no longer have to compete for contracts with companies that do not. Contracting with the government is a privilege, not an entitlement; and we want to make sure that the companies enjoying that privilege comply with our nation’s laws and the values that underpin them. Continue...


August 24, 2016 12:23 PM

In little more than a month, Ohioans will have a new, cheap and quick appeals process to potentially leverage loose public records.

On Sept. 28, the Ohio Court of Claims will begin accepting complaints on the refusal to release records by government at all levels, from townships to the state. Continue...


August 24, 2016 12:20 PM

The St. Louis Election Board violated the law when it refused to provide copies of absentee ballot applications and ballot envelopes, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Dave Roland, an attorney for state representative candidate Bruce Franks, who lost in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary to incumbent Penny Hubbard, sued for the records. Roland claims a large number of improperly cast absentee ballots tilted the election in Hubbard’s favor. Continue...


August 23, 2016 1:19 PM

Pennsylvania has rolled out an interactive, open data portal where residents, researchers, media and app developers can easily access data sets from state agencies about mission-critical policies and programs.

OpenDataPA, announced Monday, launched with 12 key datasets — including information about job creation, school performance, bridges under repair and other programs that relate to Gov. Tom Wolf’s Schools That Teach, Jobs That Pay and Government That Works priorities. The state soon will release a dashboard that uses these 12 data sets to track program performance goals. Continue...


August 23, 2016 1:11 PM

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained over 243,000 immigrants in Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015).1 The detained immigrants are housed in a patchwork of public and private facilities around the country under contract with ICE.

There are three immigrant detention facilities in Georgia. The two largest facilities are Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin and Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla.2 Over 11,000 detainees were booked into these two detention centers during FY 2015. Nearly 8,500 people were booked out – or released – from the facilities for various reasons, including deportation or termination of proceedings when the detainee won relief. Continue...


August 23, 2016 12:53 PM

Hey, federal open data enthusiasts — here’s one for you.

Data Transparency 2016 (DT2016), the Data Foundation’s fourth annual open data policy conference, will convene at the Washington Convention Center on Sept. 28. As in previous years, the conference “will bring together government leaders, transparency advocates, and the technology industry to transform government information from disconnected documents into open data.” Continue...


August 22, 2016 1:27 PM

In 1966, Congress enacted the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to create a legal regime under which the American public could gain access to information about its government’s activities. In keeping with Justice Brandeis’s observation that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” FOIA has become an invaluable tool in forcing information of national interest into the open, and of revealing instances of government waste, fraud, and abuse.

Despite the general ethic of openness, FOIA exempts, among other things, national security (i.e. classified) information, trade secrets and commercial or financial information, information related solely to the internal personnel rules of an agency, and personnel and medical files. In addition, FOIA exempts information “specifically exempted from disclosure by statute.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(3) (such statutes are referred to as “Exemption 3” statutes). Continue...


August 22, 2016 1:21 PM

In two Loop office buildings about eight blocks apart, a pair of University of Chicago research teams are analyzing big data to answer a thorny question that has become especially charged in recent months: Will a police officer have an adverse interaction with a citizen?

The team from the university's Crime Lab is in the first stages of working with the Chicago Police Department to build a predictive data program to improve the department's Early Intervention System, which is designed to determine if an officer is likely to engage in aggressive, improper conduct with a civilian. Continue...


August 22, 2016 12:43 PM

The Data Foundation, the sister organization of the Data Coalition that launched this winter, is teaming up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation to hold a “California Database Hunt.”

The goal? California’s local government agencies are now (as of July 1, 2016) required to publish a list of all “enterprise systems” they use to store data and information on the public. Continue...


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