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 14, 2016 11:04 AM

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit today against the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for delaying for months the release of emails related to the Flint water crisis.

The lawsuit comes after the Mackinac Center for Public Policy waited since March for the Department (MDEQ) to respond to a simple public records request. Rick Snyder’s office released in June the final batch of Flint-related emails in an “effort to increase transparency and make information more accessible to the public,” but the MDEQ still remains unresponsive to the Center’s FOIA request. Continue...

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July 13, 2016 1:56 PM

State lawmakers continued their search Tuesday for ways to help cities, counties, school districts and other government agencies deal with increasing demands for large volumes of public records, some of those from people whose motives they question.

Lawmakers earlier this year refused to pass a bill that would have let local governments limit how much time employees spend processing requests and to prioritize the order in which they are handled. Continue...

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July 13, 2016 1:51 PM

The Brigham Young University Police Department has "full-spectrum" law enforcement authority under state law: Sworn officers may stop, search, arrest and use physical force against people.

But BYU police do not face the same requirements for transparency as officers across the state: The department is not subject to the state's open-records laws, according to a decision by state record administrators. Continue...

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July 13, 2016 1:39 PM

"We have reached a tipping point – a crisis situation – when it comes to freedom of information in this country. We are frogs in the kettle of slowly heating water," the head of the UA Journalism School, David Cuillier, told Congress on Tuesday.

Despite recent improvements, "the law is broken. FOIA has been co-opted as a tool of secrecy, not transparency," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Continue...

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July 11, 2016 11:28 AM

"Are you registered to vote?" Dave Tessitor asked a man as he walked past the library in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

"Yes," the man said, not stopping.

Tessitor fell in step. "We're collecting signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot," he said, walking up the street with the man. He only turned back several blocks later, the cargo pocket of his shorts one pamphlet lighter. He shrugged and smiled. And then a young couple came out of the library. "Excuse me, are you registered to vote?" Continue...

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July 11, 2016 11:22 AM

Every Maryland journalist who has filed a freedom of information request or challenged efforts by officials to keep public deliberations secret owes a debt of gratitude to Jim Keat, who passed away July 6 after a prolonged bout with cancer.

Keat passionately detested public secrecy. He led the fight to enlarge and put teeth in Maryland’s Opening Meetings Act and its Freedom of Information Act. Continue...

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July 11, 2016 11:18 AM

Lawyers representing the Daily Press are gearing up to convince a panel of state Supreme Court justices later this summer that the full court should hear the newspaper's case seeking access to a statewide database of court information.

The Daily Press and reporter Dave Ress filed a lawsuit last year against the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) of the Supreme Court of Virginia under the state's Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit asked the court to order the OES, the administrative agency for the state's courts, to release the database. Continue...

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July 11, 2016 11:13 AM

The “open data” movement has produced a deluge of publicly available information this decade, as governments like those in the UK and US have released large volumes of data for general use.

But the flood has left researchers and data scientists with a problem: how do they find the best data sets, ensure these are accurate and up to date, and combine them with other sources of information? Continue...

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July 8, 2016 12:19 PM

Wisconsin’s government transparency laws don’t require public bodies such as the University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents to immediately disclose the documents that their members plan to discuss at upcoming meetings, a Justice Department official said Thursday.

The Wisconsin State Journal asked the Department of Justice last month to weigh in on whether the UW System violated public records or open meetings laws when it refused to release the details of its $6.2 billion annual operating budget until just before the Regents approved it. Continue...

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July 8, 2016 12:14 PM

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the Open Data, Open Jobs initiative to better connect job seekers with job opportunities. The Open Data, Open Jobs initiative provides a new open data set of available jobs in Virginia to equip innovators, programmers, and researchers with accessible data to help the Commonwealth offer new and creative approaches to articulating employer needs for talent and matching job seekers to job opportunities.

Entrepreneurs can use the workforce data to create apps and programs that better engage a new generation of career seekers. Continue...

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July 8, 2016 12:00 PM

At a July 6 hearing of the D.C. Council Committee on Housing and Community Relations, the Coalition opposed a bill to exempt Advisory Neighborhood Commissions from the Freedom of Information Act. Board member LaVita Tuff testified that the bill would perpetuate ANCs' blanket exemption from the Open Meetings Act as well.

She noted that Councilmember Anita Bonds, the committee chair, is a co-sponsor of the Strengthening Transparency and Open Access to Government Act of 2016, which Councilmember Grosso and Cheh introduced in January to help D.C. government implement best practices in transparency and accountability. Ms. Tuff said the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions Omnibus Amendment Act of 2016 before the Housing Committee is in direct conflict with the transparency bill and best practices. Continue...

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July 8, 2016 11:57 AM

The D.C. Open Government Coalition testified July 6 to the D.C. Council opposing legislation to exempt the 41 Advisory Neighborhood Commissions from public records and open meetings laws.

Hundreds of commissioners are elected at the neighborhood level. Commissions (4-6 per ward) advise on D.C. government actions including traffic, parking, recreation, street improvements, liquor licenses, zoning, economic development, police protection, sanitation and trash collection, and the District's annual budget. Continue...

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