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

October 2, 2015 4:52 PM

With eroded powers and under continuing attack, Connecticut's first-of-a-kind Freedom of Information Act turns 40 on Thursday.

After being involved in the fight for government transparency and accountability since 1975, I am often asked what are the most important issues facing those working to keep the government and its information open to the public. Unfortunately, many of the most critical issues involve trying to undo damage to the law done by our politicians and courts. Continue...


October 2, 2015 4:50 PM

About two years ago, Hanna Skandera, then secretary-designate of the New Mexico Public Education Department, started repeating a number. Under the state’s old teacher evaluation system, she would say over and over again, 99 percent of teachers were considered competent.

By contrasting that stat with low student test scores, Skandera was pointing to flaws in the teacher evaluation system and calling for a change. Continue....


October 2, 2015 4:47 PM

The Colorado Supreme Court heard Thursday from a state lawmaker and members of the public who are concerned about proposed regulations that will govern access to the administrative records of the Colorado Judicial Branch.

“This proposed rule does not inspire the trust and confidence of the people,” said Denver attorney Chris Forsyth, who runs a grassroots judicial-reform organization. “It works directly against it.” Continue...


October 1, 2015 3:48 PM

The Ohio Supreme Court, which serves as the ultimate referee in fights for public records, most often sides with the government, a new analysis from the Ohio Coalition for Open Government shows.

The group analyzed court rulings and justices’ votes in 32 open-government cases before the Ohio Supreme Court since 2010 and found that 12 went in favor of open government while 20 favored restricting or denying access. Continue...


October 1, 2015 3:32 PM

As more cities break into the world of transparency, policy remains an important piece of the open data puzzle.

But just how relevant and important is an open data policy to a successful open data program? What does it actually accomplish, not just symbolically, but functionally? Or, to put it more bluntly, why even have an open data policy? Continue...


October 1, 2015 3:22 PM

The court records of convicted juveniles in Iowa should be confidential and unavailable for public review, a move that would help youth who have completed probation turn their lives around, according to a state group studying justice policy reforms.

Currently, court records of juveniles convicted of crimes can be accessed on Iowa Courts Online and from court files. Continue...


October 1, 2015 3:18 PM

Law enforcement officials across the U.S. have become enamored of the StingRay, an electronic surveillance device that can covertly track criminal suspects and is being used with little public disclosure and often under uncertain legal authority.

Now, though, some states are pushing back, and are requiring the police to get a court order and local consent before turning to the high-tech tool. Continue...


October 1, 2015 3:15 PM

Transparency advocates in the U.S. are facing legal obstacles to moving state codes online.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 200 years ago that government work can’t be copyrighted, a tug of war between private companies with contracts to publish state codes and open government activists has raised questions about the ruling’s scope. Continue...


September 30, 2015 11:06 AM

RALEIGH, N.C. — The UNC Board of Governors would have to vet three finalists for the University of North Carolina president job in an open meeting under a bill the state House gave tentative approval to on Monday night.

As originally drafted, Senate Bill 670 limited members of the Board of Governors to serving three terms. That provision is still in the bill, although it has been clarified to allow current members of the board who were potentially affected to finish their current terms.  Continue>>>


September 30, 2015 10:40 AM

If you’re reading this, you’re likely familiar with the terms open government, open data and open source. You probably understand how civic engagement is being radically transformed through these movements.

Therein lies the challenge: How can we reach everyone else, those who haven’t heard these terms and have little interest in civic engagement? Here’s what I think: Civic engagement is a bad brand. If we’re to capture the attention of more people, we need to change its brand for the better.  Continue>>>


September 30, 2015 10:29 AM

When it became clear Monday the Jacksonville City Council would not spend $320,000 to prevent fire department demotions, the firefighters’ union president sent out a flurry of text messages to council members in a last-ditch, real-time — and private — lobbying push for a second vote.

Whether his efforts persuaded council members is unclear, but the money was approved in a second vote about an hour later after three council members switched sides. One of them, Scott Wilson, exchanged messages with Randy Wyse, the union’s president, during the meeting.  Continue>>>


September 30, 2015 10:23 AM

Engineering Prof. James Holloway, the vice provost for Global and Engaged Education, said Monday the University could implement plans to release course evaluation data as early as this semester.

Holloway’s announcement at Monday’s Senate Assembly Committee on University Affairs’ meeting came as a surprise to many of the committee’s members.  Continue>>>


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