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

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>>>


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>>>


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>>>


August 17, 2015 12:13 PM

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


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>>>


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>>>


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>>>


August 14, 2015 10:46 AM

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — State officials are seeking input on whether government offices should be able to charge citizens to inspect public records.

Current state law allows charges for copying records, but inspection is generally free.  Continue>>>


August 14, 2015 10:21 AM

The head of Florida’s main open-government organization said Wednesday Governor Rick Scott should personally pay the $700,000 settlement costs of a public records lawsuit, rather than letting taxpayers pick up the tab.

Scott agreed to a state-paid settlement after Internet giant Google was ordered to turn over relevant documents in a dispute with a Tallahassee attorney who accused the governor’s office of secretly using private emails for state business.”He’s playing fast and loose with our Constitution and we’re paying the cost, both literally and figuratively,” Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, said of Scott.  Continue>>>


August 13, 2015 1:32 PM

Dozens of journalist and open government groups implied this week that President Obama has failed to live up to his promise to be the most open government in history, and called on him to make the workings of the federal government more accessible to journalists and watchdogs.

"When you first entered office you pledged to become the most transparent president in history," they wrote. "It is not too late to fulfill that promise."  Continue>>>


August 13, 2015 1:23 PM

FOI Followup: Successful litigants in a lawsuit against Florida Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet return the funds to NFOIC and to the Knight Foundation FOI grant program. The grant was critical to secure legal representation that may not have occurred without the funds. Continue>>>


August 12, 2015 3:46 PM

Public evaluation has begun of D.C. Mayor Bowser's latest proposal for limited access to video from police body cameras, with press representatives, the D.C. police union, and now the Washington Post suggesting further work is needed, especially reconsidering a complete ban on release of any video taken anywhere a person has a "heightened expectation of privacy."

The DC Open Government Coalition has obtained a copy of an August 6 memo from Deputy Mayor Kevin Donahue to Judiciary Committee Chair Kenyan McDuffie sketching the new proposal, due to be published in mid-September.  Initial reactions were reported in Aaron Davis's Washington Post story published Monday (10).  Continue>>>


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