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

September 24, 2015 1:49 PM

Sixteen Minnesota cities have asked the state to declare most information gathered by police bodies cameras in way too many instances as private information.

The reason for the request: The state legislature has been unable to decide what is public information on video and audio gathered by police body cameras, in large part because it is a very complex issue. Continue...


September 24, 2015 1:43 PM

More than 100 local governments added their expenditures to the state's online checkbook on Thursday, a move Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel hopes will spark other local entities open their books to taxpayers.

Spending data for 114 cities, counties, townships, school districts, and special districts are available on the state's website, Expenditures can be viewed by spending category or vendor, with the ability to drill down to individual transactions. The checkbook data can be shared on social media sites and downloaded in spreadsheet form for more analysis. Continue...


September 23, 2015 1:57 PM

The Department of Justice awarded $19.3 million in grants this week to dozens of police departments seeking to start using body cameras but turned down a greater number of applicants hoping for federal aid to deploy the technology.

The Justice Department said the grants will go to 73 police agencies in 42 states, helping purchase 21,000 cameras that officers wear on their uniforms to record interactions with citizens. More than 200 other police agencies that applied were passed over for funding for cameras, which are touted as a way to reduce the use of force and clear up questions about disputed encounters. Continue...


September 23, 2015 1:50 PM

Last December, the California Senate’s new President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, shut down a small legislative staff bureau filled with investigators who provided oversight of a few of the state’s myriad bureaucracies and government programs. De Leon decided that Senate committees would now handle oversight – and his office has since dubbed various run-of-the-mill Senate hearings as “oversight hearings.”

But virtually everyone in the Capitol knows there’s much more appetite for creating and expanding programs than there is for looking closely at what existing programs do. Continue...


September 23, 2015 1:41 PM

The New York City Council will consider a pair of bills aimed at identifying and monitoring police officers like the one who tackled retired tennis star James Blake earlier this month.

Councilman Dan Garodnick is introducing a bill to create an Early Intervention System in response to the debate over the NYPD’s ability to police its own. Continue...


September 23, 2015 1:34 PM

They dump out Solo cups filled with jungle juice and confiscate fake IDs, but campus officers are more than just underage drinking police. Sworn campus police are academy trained, and can carry weapons, make arrests and use force, just like any other police officers can.

The difference is campus police are called “special state police officers,” which means they’re exempt from Massachusetts public records law. Continue...


September 23, 2015 12:41 PM

As police departments across the country equip their officers with body cameras, many are struggling to strike a balance between the public’s right to know and privacy protections.

This year 10 states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas—have passed laws concerning public access to the footage, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit group that assists journalists. Continue...


September 22, 2015 3:10 PM

A special prosecutor has been assigned to determine whether behind-the-scenes negotiations could void a last-minute deal struck by Montgomery County commissioners to get a scaled-back $270 million road bond package on the upcoming November ballot.

At question is whether some commissioners and a powerful tea party group violated the open meetings law. It would mark the third defeat of a road bond proposal in the past decade, with the last one coming four months ago when voters rejected a 20 percent larger bond proposal. Continue...


September 22, 2015 3:02 PM

Cleveland County Commissioners were at the state capitol this week to speak on the need for transparency in their statewide membership group, the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma.

Commissioners told a state House committee led by Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, they are concerned with how ACCO spends tax dollars invested in membership insurance funds. Continue... 


September 22, 2015 2:35 PM

An Idaho transportation committee may have been breaking open meeting laws for the past 25 years, the Twin Falls prosecuting attorney’s office says.

The Greater Twin Falls Area Transportation Committee hasn’t posted an agenda or meeting notice as long as it has existed but will from now on, Chairman Gary Young said. Continue...


September 22, 2015 2:05 PM

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Co. have repeatedly understated the legal authority that administration officials possess to fulfill the spirit and the letter of Virginia's open-records laws.

Unfortunately, even the Supreme Court of Virginia appears to be following that lead. Continue...


September 22, 2015 1:37 PM

Colorado Springs Utilities, a public entity owned by its ratepayers, has routinely denied document requests filed under the Colorado Open Records Act.

The reports sought through CORA pertain to air quality in light of emissions from the coal-burning Martin Drake Power Plant. The records withheld fall under the act's exception for "trade secrets, privileged information, and confidential commercial, financial, geological or geophysical data," said Rick Griffith, of the City Attorney's Office.

That interpretation of the law is hotly disputed, however. Continue...


Syndicate content