FOI Advocate News Blog

Syndicate content

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/.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

December 8, 2014 2:04 PM

A bill reforming the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) could pass the Senate as early as Thursday, but at least one senator has placed a hold on the legislation.

The FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 has been “hotlined,” meaning it is being considered for placement on the Senate’s unanimous consent calendar, where it could be passed without a lengthy debate.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in November and would be the first major reform of the FOIA since 2007. Among other provisions, the legislation would codify President Obama’s requirement for federal agencies to act with a “presumption of openness” and weaken agencies’ leeway to withhold documents more than 25 years old. Continue>>>
======

December 8, 2014 1:56 PM

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act creates a monumental challenge for federal agencies. Government leaders, watchdog groups and citizens want to make sure tax dollars are being used in productive, efficient ways free from waste and fraud. They also want proof that publicly funded programs are performing well against stated missions and executing within budget.

The only way to know is by seeing the proof: the data itself. Government agencies can't just analyze and manage data. They must also share it in ways that are insightful and useful. The demand for government transparency and accountability is here to stay.

But open data should be viewed as an opportunity as much as a challenge -- an opportunity to encourage greater citizen participation and save precious budget dollars in the process. In fact, open data could be a huge money-saver. A McKinsey and Co. study has suggested that open data could allow government agencies to recover a combined $3 trillion a year or more. But those savings won't happen automatically. Continue>>>
======

December 8, 2014 1:48 PM

A report on ways to create a more open government in Santa Rosa was welcomed by the City Council, though quick action on its recommendations is unlikely.

The report of the city’s Open Government Task Force was the final item presented to the outgoing City Council on Tuesday. That means implementation of its suggestions, including passing a sunshine ordinance and hiring a communications director, will fall to the new council, which will revisit the issue in February.

Several council members praised the work of the nine-member panel, which was formed by Mayor Scott Bartley following criticism of how the city reacted to the death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez. Continue>>>
======

December 5, 2014 12:03 PM

Open records activists have launched a Twitter campaign urging Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., to lift a hold he placed on the FOIA Improvement Act.

The bipartisan companion bill was passed unanimously by the House in February and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved it in November.

One senator shouldn't obstruct progress on making the federal government more transparent to the American people. Continue>>>
======

December 5, 2014 11:56 AM

Your lame-duck Legislature is fiddling with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act again. No good can come of that.

Before they leave town this week, lawmakers with nothing to lose could be asked to vote on two bills, both of them designed to water down an already weak public records law.

Their aim is to make it harder for you to see what public officials are doing — on your behalf, with your tax dollars. Continue>>>
======

December 5, 2014 11:39 AM

A long awaited Senate report on the CIA’s former “enhanced interrogation" techniques could be out by Monday.

Vice News reported Jason Leopold, who has a longstanding Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Obama administration over the so-called “torture report,” tweeted on Wednesday that the report should be out at the beginning of next week.

“Senate report on CIA interrogation program will be released MONDAY, govt atty just told my atty in my #FOIA case for the rpt,” he tweeted. Continue>>>
======

December 5, 2014 11:32 AM

The Ann Arbor City Council went on record this week stating a preference for increased transparency when it comes to the release of public records.

The council voted unanimously to direct the city administrator to revise the city's Freedom of Information Act administrative policy to do just that.

The resolution sponsored by Council Members Sabra Briere, Jack Eaton and Sumi Kailasapathy notes the city administrator provided a draft of revisions to the city's policy for release of public records in early 2013. Continue>>>
======

December 5, 2014 11:24 AM

Following this year’s state Supreme Court rulings that dramatically curtailed the public’s ability to follow the actions of public bodies, state senators have introduced legislation that could let some sunshine back in.

The court had said that public bodies, such as city councils, were not required to provide meeting agendas. The justices also ruled that autopsies were exempt from public disclosure because they were private medical records.

In September, a legislative panel heard testimony from the S.C. Press Association and others on the court’s rulings, along with ways to fix the Freedom of Information Act. Continue>>>
======

December 5, 2014 11:21 AM

Once again, failure to follow the Freedom of Information Act, failure to provide responsive public records to the person requesting the records.

This is the 7th FOIA civil suit against Arcola Township.

You can read it below, but the main problem is that Arcola Township thinks they can do as they please, the law be damned. Continue>>>
======

December 4, 2014 11:05 AM

Government procurement is a $9.5 trillion industry, and supplying goods and services to the government is a core business function for thousands of companies around the world. In the U.S., contracts signed by both parties are usually not published, and are only released if someone files what is known as a freedom-of-information request with the relevant agency.

That’s inappropriate. Citizens paid for the services; they should know what they’re buying. But it is also a loss to the private sector. Keeping contracts hidden increases the cost and risk of bidding on government tenders, and so businesses should be leading the charge on contract transparency.

We know firms want access to government contracts because they are willing to pay for it. In the U.S., the company DelTek processes freedom-of-information requests for government contracts as part of an effort to help its clients win more government work. It boasts a contracts database of more than 1.7 million entries. There are similar pay-access databases for oil, gas and mining contracts. If firms know what previous contracts look like, it will help them bid for new work or licenses—or avoid bidding if they can’t compete. Continue>>>
======

December 4, 2014 11:03 AM

President Barack Obama signed a bill Wednesday that has the potential to curtail prolonged delays in the release of historical White House records.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced Wednesday afternoon that the "Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014" was among a set of bills Obama approved just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

The legislation will end the practice of White House lawyers repeatedly extending the review of records of prior presidents that the National Archives has designated for release. Under the new law, the current president and affected former president have 60 business days to review records the Archives declares an intention to make public. That period can be extended 30 business days, but only once. Continue>>>
======

December 4, 2014 10:50 AM

The Minnehaha County Commission Tuesday appointed a panel to review the county's election procedures, and after some debate commissioners decided the group's meetings should be open to the public.

They didn't have to be, the commission's assistant department head Robert Wilson told commissioners. Because the committee has no statutory authority, its proceedings do not fall under the state open meeting law. Only the final report it delivers to the commission is a public document, Wilson said.

Auditor Bob Litz and Commissioner Dick Kelly argued for the election review committee's meetings to be closed. They said it would encourage frank discussion, and Kelly added that closed meetings would not add fuel to an already highly-charged political debate about issues arising in the general election. He said, "I do believe in open government," but added "there has got to be open and frank discussion among committee members without the danger of it ending up a headline or a lead news story." Continue>>>
======

Syndicate content