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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July 28, 2015 9:33 AM

BOSTON — Reform of the decades-old public records law is getting strong support on Beacon Hill, but many lawmakers balk at lifting exemptions to open-government laws that shield much of their work from public view.

Lawmakers could vote this week on a proposal filed by Sen. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, and Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton to limit fees for requests for government records. It directs cities, towns and government agencies to appoint someone to handle such requests and make available electronic versions of documents.  Continue>>>

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July 27, 2015 3:36 PM

On August 21, Union County Superior Court Judge James Hely is scheduled to hear argument in a case against the Summit Housing Authority for non-compliance with New Jersey's open public meetings law.  The matter is currently set for 9 a.m. in Elizabeth.

The case, which alleges multiple violations of the state's Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) , was filed by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) earlier this year. It's the latest of several "affirmative litigation" lawsuits brought by the public advocacy group to draw attention to such violations and encourage greater voluntary compliance with the law by public agencies statewide.  Continue>>>

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July 27, 2015 10:05 AM

The D.C. Open Government Coalition (DCOGC) July 27 released a comprehensive look at how each state and 15 of the largest cities are addressing through legislation and policies key issues surrounding implementation of police body cameras. This report is the first to compile a panoply of legislation, policies, regulations and current law into a single, easily accessible and reviewable document.

   “As we were preparing testimony for a hearing of the Committee on the Judiciary of the Council of the District of Columbia, we realized that we might benefit from seeing how other states and large cities had approached the issue and whether any trends or even best practices were emerging,” said Kevin M. Goldberg, Coalition president.  Continue>>>

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July 27, 2015 10:00 AM

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia state government and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business will again work together on data re-engineering internships to explore the use of data to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of state government.

In the 2014-2015 school year, the data internship program’s first, 45 graduate students and more than 20 state agencies participated. Those internships have resulted in tangible dollar savings and improved agency processes. Student/agency teams have worked on successful projects, such as improving how the state prices and sells its goods and services, and more efficiently matching citizens to benefits when they enroll.  Continue>>>

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July 27, 2015 9:49 AM

Attorney General Brad Schimel is starting the substantial task of updating the state’s open records law at a time when voices of outrage are still reverberating in the Capitol’s halls over a recent unsuccessful attempt by leading lawmakers to significantly diminish public scrutiny.

“This is a big beast,” said Schimel of the task, who has said since he was elected in November he wanted to update the state’s open records law for the first time since 1981 to, in part, better reflect government officials’ use of modern technology.  Continue>>>

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July 27, 2015 9:38 AM

Three graduate students found nearly half of the Indiana county agencies surveyed failed to obey the Indiana Access to Public Records Act.

Graduate students Craig Lyons, Samim Arif and DeJuan Foster conducted a reporting project to review the status of digital access within Indiana government 
agencies.  Continue>>>

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July 27, 2015 9:19 AM

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Gov. Dannel Malloy and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill recently announced Connecticut’s website of state regulations has relaunched with a goal of increasing public accessibility and transparency in the state’s regulation process.

Located at eregulations.ct.gov, the website allows users to easily search the state’s regulations using common text searching or advanced Boolean searching, and allows for search filtering to find information faster, according to a press release.  Continue>>>

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July 24, 2015 11:11 AM

Three more cities now have real-time public transportation information available to their commuters, without having to develop or maintain the mobile apps themselves. All it took was improved open data, and some serious collaboration with some civic-minded coders.

All three cities -- Chattanooga, Tenn., Baltimore, and Cleveland  --  are now served by Transit App, which uses open public transportation data to display all local transport options and departure times instantly in 99 cities worldwide. Users can view bus schedules and arrivals, metro rail maps and departures, request service from Uber, plan a bicycle trip with viewable bike paths and more.  Continue>>>

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July 24, 2015 10:53 AM

A number of people with local ties received Illinois Courage Awards Thursday for their impact on the government transparency movement.

Courage Award winners from the area included former Shumway Fire Protection District candidate Eric Petty, Effingham Unit 40 school board member Jane Willenborg, Effingham County Health Board Chairman Dot Behrns and Carl Miller of the Neoga Taxpayer Alliance. In addition, the Effingham County Board was honored as a group.  Continue>>>

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July 24, 2015 10:42 AM

Documents pertaining to the accidental killing of two men by US drone strikes in Yemen can continue to remain unacknowledged by the agencies guiding the strikes.

A federal judge has ruled the CIA and Defense Department (DOD) do not have to confirm or deny whether they have records on the “factual basis for the killing” of either Samir Khan or Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who were killed in two separate drone strikes in September and October of 2011.  Continue>>>

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July 23, 2015 12:39 PM

Iowa now allows private businesses to cloak their efforts to win state contracts in secrecy, prohibiting taxpayers from reviewing competitive bid details that for decades have been made public.

Specifically, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services allows bidders to submit two versions of their work or sale proposals: one for state executives that is unredacted, and another that’s a “public” file where each private company determines what information it wants the public to see.  Continue>>>

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July 23, 2015 12:10 PM

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has launched an interactive, online map charting the policies of more than 100 police departments and laws in nearly every state regarding public access to police body camera videos.

"In the past year, we've seen dramatic growth in the number of police departments implementing bodycam programs. Unfortunately, not all police departments and lawmakers appreciate the importance of ensuring public access to bodycam video and other public records that are generated by those programs," said Reporters Committee Litigation Director Katie Townsend.  Continue>>>

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