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

January 22, 2015 1:31 PM

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took a large step Tuesday toward joining the growing "open data" movement of making government statistics readily available to anyone with a computer and Internet connection.

Supervisors authorized creation of a website to be a "one-stop shop" for information on budgets, crime statistics, welfare and the like that could be used and redistributed without any legal, social or technological limitations.

The Open Data Initiative calls for the county's chief information officer to put statistics already publicly available through individual departments onto a single platform and to assemble a task force to identify other data sets at the county's disposal that could be made available in machine-readable format and added to the new open-data portal. The task force is to report to the board within 90 days. Continue>>>

January 22, 2015 1:21 PM

Gov. Tom Wolf spent part of his first day on the job Wednesday undergoing a few hours of training on ethics and making government open to the public.

Aides said the governor arrived at the Capitol at about 11 a.m., the morning after his inaugural ball, and parked his trademark Jeep outside the executive offices before joining senior staff and others for the training.

Wolf spokesman Mark Nicastre said it was Wolf's idea to start off with the training, "to get everybody on the same page on the first day." Continue>>>

January 22, 2015 1:15 PM

Only about 10 percent of 360 candidates took the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information’s pledge prior to the 2014 election, but at least 10 more have signed the pledge since November.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman are the most recent elected officials to sign the pledge, which asks officials to oppose weakening the state’s public document disclosure law and to require public hearings for any attempts to change the law.

Prior to the election, 37 candidates signed the two-part pledge from the nonprofit organization. The organization re-issued the pledge on Jan. 8, the day after the start of the legislative session, and were able to get 10 more elected officials to sign the pledge. In total, 23 incumbents have signed the pledge, including 19 Democrats and four Republicans. Continue>>>

January 22, 2015 1:10 PM

Following several Freedom of Information Act requests, the U.S. Air Force released its files related to unidentified flying objects this week.

The files reveal many UFO instances that the Air Force has investigated and explained–but also a number they have not, according to USA Today.

The truth is out there — now on the Web. The fabled Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s files on UFO sightings and investigations, have tantalized and frustrated extraterrestrial enthusiasts for decades. But this past week, nearly 130,000 pages of declassified UFO records—a trove that would make Agent Fox Mulder’s mouth water—were put online. Continue>>>

January 22, 2015 12:58 PM

Newly inaugurated Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs refused Tuesday to release a report about sexual harassment allegations against his predecessor, pointing to ongoing legal action.

Frerichs, a Democrat and former state senator who said during his campaign that he wanted to release the investigation into the charges against ex-Treasurer Dan Rutherford, denied a request from The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act filed Jan. 12, the day he took office.

In a letter to the AP, FOIA officer G. Allen Mayer said Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, had "instructed" the treasurer not to disclose the findings because Madigan's office is defending Rutherford against a former employee's federal lawsuit. Continue>>>


January 22, 2015 12:37 PM

Modern-day candidates and politicians talk a good game about transparency, open government and public consultation.

Part of our job is to make sure they aren't blowing smoke.

With new councils in place in the Regional District of Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach, we looked up the section of B.C.'s Community Charter that relates to closed meetings. The list of circumstances in which a council can close meetings — go 'in camera' as it's called — is a long one. Too long, we'd submit. In fact, one could make an argument every piece of business a council conducts could fall into one or more of the categories that allows for in camera proceedings. Continue>>>

January 21, 2015 12:53 PM

A legal dispute involving a former Koch Industries employee has led a prominent academic freedom group to contradict its previous advocacy for the privacy of “scholarly communications.”

A student group at the University of Kansas, Students for a Sustainable Future, filed a state open records request last April for documents pertaining to the hiring of several faculty members within the university’s business school.

It also included a request for the email correspondence of lecturer Art Hall, who served as chief economist for the lobbying sector of Kansas-based Koch Industries from 1997 to 2004. Continue>>>

January 21, 2015 12:48 PM

OpenText (NASDAQ: OTEX, TSX: OTC), a global leader in enterprise information management (EIM), today announced OpenText Records Management has obtained DOD 5015.2-Chapter 4 Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIA/PA) Certification, a global benchmark for US federal agencies, and de facto standard for public and private sector organisations worldwide.

Certification under the DOD 5015.2-Chapter 4 FOIA/PA requirements is of particular importance to the US Federal Government, following signing of the Presidential Memorandum for the "Managing Government Records Directive", which requires:

* All permanent records must be managed in electronic format by 2019;
* E-mail must be managed in electronic format in a Records Management system by 2016; and
* Increasing visibility of privacy and compliance requirements such as FOIA/PA. Continue>>>

January 21, 2015 12:39 PM

A pledge circulated by advocates of government transparency to garner support for the state’s Freedom of Information Act has yielded additional signatures since it was reissued earlier this month.

None of the latest round of signatures came from New London or Windham counties.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman is one of 10 elected officials to add their name to the pledge, which was created by the nonprofit Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information, founded in 1955. It asked respondents to vow to support the state’s Freedom of Information Act and to do whatever they could “to require that any proposals to weaken or impair the FOI Act be presented for debate at public hearings before any action is taken on them.” Continue>>>

January 21, 2015 12:30 PM

Northern Michigan University’s student newspaper won’t have to pay a fee to get administration e-mails through the Freedom of Information Act.

North Wind editor-in-chief Emma Finkbeiner said the emails were sought to investigate what she calls intimidation issues from six administrators and general counsel over other stories, including NMU’s exclusive contract with Starbucks Coffee.

University officials said the FOIA request would cost the newspaper $613. That decreased to $300 when general counsel e-mails were taken off the list. Continue>>>

January 21, 2015 12:26 PM

The people who really need the Freedom of Information Act are members of the general public — you and me. The so-called "average Joes."

When dealing with a reluctant official unwilling to hand out information about the functioning of government, it is the FOIA that spells out what information should be available to the general public and how it should be turned over.

Reporters love the FOIA, yes, and they use it with some frequency, but it's the average citizen who most needs and uses it most often. Continue>>>


January 21, 2015 12:16 PM

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced the availability of a free, online class on the state’s transparency and public record laws.

The classes have been available as in-person lessons since 2011, but a demand for remote training prompted the office to offer them online.

“As we’ve conducted these training sessions and answered emails and telephone calls — from the public, the media, and even representatives from state and local government — we’ve been reminded that many interested individuals aren’t necessarily able to travel and attend a three-hour course on Ohio’s Sunshine Laws,” DeWine said in a press release. continue>>>

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