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 19, 2016 9:02 AM

The General Services Administration is working to create a place where data providers can go to see if their data fits into a set of standards others might be already using.

This new effort, the recently announced U.S. Data Federation, is a step forward in the open data movement toward not just publishing data on but also coordinating it among specific topics to be interoperable and standardized, experts say.


October 19, 2016 9:00 AM

After a protracted mediation process and with the clock winding down to a Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission hearing, Newtown Board of Ethics Chair Jacqueline Villa admitted to violating the state FOI Act on two separate occasions, both involving illegal executive sessions — meetings with members of her board closed to press and citizens that should have been conducted in public.


October 19, 2016 8:56 AM

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas will host an Open Government Seminar in Denton in November featuring training in public meetings and public records laws.

The non-profit FOI Foundation, in cooperation with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office and the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT, will offer the one-day seminar on Wednesday, Nov. 16. It is designed for government employees, journalists, attorneys and members of the general public interested in the Texas Public Information Act and Texas Open Meetings Act.


October 18, 2016 2:24 PM

In a decision First Amendment experts have dubbed “outrageous,” a Contra Costa Superior Court judge jailed a San Ramon man for writing about his divorce on the internet — even though his writings were based on material publicly available in court files.

The judge, Bruce C. Mills, insisted in his decision that “matters that are put into court pleadings and brought up in oral argument before the court do not become public thereby” — a position that lawyers say fundamentally misunderstands the nature of court records.


October 18, 2016 2:03 PM

The Anchorage Police Department is joining 100 other police departments around the country to provide more data and information to their respective communities.

APD announced Friday it’s participating in the White House Police Data Initiative.

Lieutenant Jack Carson says the aim is to increase transparency within the Anchorage Police Department.


October 18, 2016 2:01 PM

2,473 days after President Barack Obama issued an Open Government Directive, half of the 15 Cabinet agencies of the United States have not complied with the most basic aspect of the executive order: publishing an open government plan on their open website.

Eight agencies have not published a new plan, as required every two years: The Departments of Treasury, Interior, Commerce, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. Six have: the Departments of State, Justice, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Transportation and Education. One, the Department of Defense, has claimed to publish a new plan but has a link to the 2014 version.


October 17, 2016 12:37 PM

In a complaint filed last week, Stern says the mayor, Philip Levine, “employs … digital mediums including social media to communicate official business,” noting that the Twitter and Facebook accounts at issue identify him as mayor and are used for constituent engagement and informing city residents of important events (e.g., the Zika outbreak in Miami Beach). These accounts are separate from Levine’s personal and campaign ones.

That’s all significant because Levine posted a photo on his mayoral Twitter feed July 23 in which he’s greeting Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, and Stern responded in a tweet that linked an article he wrote criticizing Levine, with a comment blaming the mayor for causing a Miami Beach water pollution problem. After that, according to the complaint, Levine blocked Stern on Twitter.


October 17, 2016 12:34 PM

Maryland's citizens have the right to know how government transacts business on their behalf. To help set this culture of openness, Maryland legislators created the Public Information Act in 1970, followed by the Open Meetings Act in 1977. There are two volunteer boards that provide an outlet for citizen complaints relating to these acts and serve as an alternate or intermediate step before a dispute is taken to court. The Open Meetings Compliance Board (OMCB) was refreshed with new board members in 2015 and issues non-binding advisory opinions. Members of the newly-created Public Information Act Compliance Board (PIACB) were appointed in Spring 2016. That board reviews complaints regarding fees over $350 for information under the Public Information Act.


October 17, 2016 12:32 PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Several new state laws went into effect on Friday. The laws are the result of the Legislature overriding several vetoes of Gov. Jay Nixon at its session in September.

Concealing information of farmers (HB 1414): This protects information of farmers who voluntarily share information with state agencies. Specifically, it exempts data collected by any state agency under the Animal Disease Traceability Program, or any data collected for the purpose of animal health or environmental protection, from being disclosed under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. The governor vetoed it because he said it reduces government transparency.


October 12, 2016 1:47 PM

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana released the PAR Guide to the 2016 Constitutional Amendments. The Guide explains the potential impact of the six constitutional amendments that the public will consider on the Nov. 8 ballot statewide. This objective review will help voters understand the issues and the potential changes so they may develop their own positions on each proposition. View here.


October 12, 2016 1:36 PM

In 2011, speaking impassionately to an audience at CERN – one of the world’s largest institutions for nuclear physics research, headquartered in Geneva – Lessig, a professor of law at Harvard Law School and a political activist, highlighted the crisis of access to scientific scholarship. Indeed, over the last six decades, public access to scholarly works has diminished. Works that can be freely searched and read represent only a sliver of the entire wealth of human knowledge.

With the emergence of academic journals in the seventeenth century, the practice of exchanging manuscripts for review and comments became popular, leading to the establishment of the peer-review system. In fact, until the eighteenth century, there existed a strong belief in the intellectual commons and traditions of sharing knowledge between scholars. These traditions dated back to scholarship flourishing in ancient Greece. Open access was the default, and not the exception to the norm. Continue...


October 12, 2016 1:22 PM

Protecting the identity of current and past New Canaan officials who fear retribution or embarrassment in the community if their true opinions became known is a weightier public interest than letting the identities and opinions be known to the electorate. New Canaan Charter Revision Commission Chairman David Hunt and member Penny Young told a Connecticut Freedom of Information hearing officer on Tuesday that this was a primary reason for the Charter Revision Commission (CRC) withholding such information from the public.

These are “real concerns in a small town,” Hunt said. Continue...





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