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 http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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August 20, 2015 3:02 PM

HARRISBURG — The state’s Office of Open Records has ruled that government agencies are not permitted to charge fees if people requesting public records wish to use their smartphones to photograph the records they are examining.

The ruling, issued Friday, concerned a case in Reserve.  Continue>>>

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August 20, 2015 2:44 PM

Next to the Federal Election Commission’s front door is a quotation from former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." 

But the agency is refusing to uncloak a pricey, taxpayer-funded study that details decay in the security and management of its computer systems and networks, which the Center for Public Integrity revealed had been successfully infiltrated by Chinese hackers in October 2013.  Continue>>>

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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>>>

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August 19, 2015 9:38 AM

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, has received a lot of attention lately.  As has the subject of public officials using personal e-mail accounts to conduct government business.  

Sarah Pratt works in Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office as the Public Access Counselor.  Her job is to help Illinois citizens file FOIA requests, and to offer a legally binding opinion if there is a dispute between a citizen and a public official regarding a FOIA request.   Continue>>>

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August 19, 2015 9:29 AM

Invested with new authority to prosecute violations of state open-government laws, Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office will co-host a three-hour training session on transparency on Sept. 1 in Topeka.

The Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government will co-host the event.  Continue>>>

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August 19, 2015 9:21 AM

A state panel reviewing Virginia's open records laws recommended narrowing one of the law's most frequently used exemptions Tuesday.

The proposal would not change the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, but would provide clarification in the hopes of preventing the exemption from being used more broadly than intended.  Continue>>>

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exemption, FOIA, Virginia
August 18, 2015 11:39 AM

Headquarters for New York City’s health and police departments are separated by the East River, but they might as well be worlds apart when it comes to transparency.

In December, identical public record requests for a list of employees were sent to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the New York City Police Department.  Continue>>>

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August 18, 2015 9:59 AM

The Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky is requesting nominations for its annual James Madison Award to recognize a Kentuckian for outstanding service to the First Amendment. The award, created in 2006, honors the nation’s fourth president, whose extraordinary efforts led to the passage and ratification of the Bill of Rights.

The Madison Award recognizes someone who has worked in one or more of these areas: open government and open records; promotion of the watchdog role of the press; defense against government or private censorship, or robust debate in the marketplace of ideas.  Continue>>>

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August 17, 2015 12:13 PM

When the conversation turns to government and technology, all too frequently the narrative becomes one of hopelessness.

Healthcare.gov, the ancient computer sitting on the desk at the DMV, and the recent attacks by hackers on various government departments all help to reinforce this story of futility. And, inevitably, the questions get framed as, “Why can’t government be more like”—insert your favorite technology company here, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc.  Continue>>>

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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>>>

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August 17, 2015 11:30 AM

The Office of Open Records Counsel has set public hearings for Sept. 15-17 in Knoxville, Nashville and Jackson to gather input on whether citizens should have to pay local and state government to inspect public records.

The hearings will be conducted after the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government and the Tennessee Press Association opposed bills in the last legislative session that would allow for the first time local governments and state agencies to charge labor fees to provide public records for citizen inspection.  Continue>>>

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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>>>

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