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

May 16, 2016 8:57 AM

The dodgy scientists who wrote to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding that RICO laws be used to prosecute climate skeptics just got even more badly screwed.

Already one of them — George Mason University professor Jagadish Shukla — is under Congressional investigation for what has been described as the “largest science scandal in US history.”  Continue...


May 16, 2016 8:51 AM

The Missouri Legislature this session voted to curtail public access to some public records that lawmakers have sought to seal for years.

Some police body camera footage, agricultural data and criminal records would become closed records under legislation sitting on Gov. Jay Nixon's desk. The Legislature also considered sealing police records on sexual assault and suicides, as well as the identity of lottery winners, but did not act.  Continue...


May 13, 2016 6:20 PM

Minnesota’s first set of guidelines for the police use of body cameras is moving ahead at the Legislature after weeks of a stalemate, leading to outcry from open government advocates that the bill would keep too much footage under wraps.

A Minnesota House committee passed a bill Tuesday that would make most footage from the portable recording devices private. The legislation has been in the works for two years, but has gotten held up as lawmakers have struggled to address concerns about officers entering homes with the recording devices and a push from transparency advocates to grant broader public access.

Dozens of Minnesota departments are already using body cameras, and law enforcement representatives have argued that others would start using them once the state establishes clear guidelines. Continue... 


May 13, 2016 6:11 PM

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday signed legislation requiring police and prosecutors to keep the addresses and other personal information of crime victims and witnesses secret from the public and in some cases defense lawyers without a court order.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery pushed the bill as a way to protect victims.

One key provision says photos of minor victims are presumptively not public. A more sweeping provision keeps the address, phone numbers and other identifying information of victims and witnesses private. Continue...


May 13, 2016 6:06 PM

In a move toward greater transparency, arrest and booking data will henceforth be available online, the result of a collaboration between the Berkeley Police Department's Professional Standards Division and the city's IT Department.

The open data portal will enable the public to look at arrest and booking data over a 30-day period, according to a police department news release.

An Arrest Log provides information for adults arrested by Berkeley police while a Booking Log covers any law enforcement agency utilizing the Berkeley jail. Continue...


May 13, 2016 5:58 PM

A state appellate court hinted Wednesday that it had little interest in expanding government secrecy in a case involving the public's right to know who supplies the lethal drugs Texas uses to execute convicted criminals.

A decision in favor of openness by the state's 3rd Court of Appeals could a have limited effect because the Texas Legislature passed a law last year requiring state prison officials to keep the identities of the drug makers secret.

The appellate judges, however, appeared more concerned about the broader question of when potential safety concerns should trump the public's right to know how the state is spending taxpayer money. Continue...


May 13, 2016 5:50 PM

The city of Mesa faces paying more than twice its annual budget to settle a state Public Records Act dispute with its former mayor, Donna Zink.

Franklin County Superior Court Judge Bruce A. Spanner assessed a $353,000 penalty against the tiny farm city for 33 separate infractions of the state records law during a hearing Tuesday.

The Public Records Act requires public agencies to respond in a timely fashion to requests for public records or face financial penalties for violations. It is designed to empower citizens to monitor government. Continue...


May 12, 2016 8:18 PM

A state appeals court today ordered the New York City Police Department to release information on the health risks of the unmarked X-ray vans that it uses to covertly detect explosives. '

But the panel overturned a lower court’s ruling that required the department to disclose records on when and where the vans had been used, its policies on van usage, or how much the vans cost, agreeing with the NYPD that concerns over terrorism outweighed the public interest.

For the past four years, ProPublica has sought information about the secretive NYPD counterterrorism program that uses the vans equipped with X-ray machines. The vans can drive alongside vehicles or buildings to find organic materials such as drugs and explosives that may be hidden inside. Continue...


NYPD, ProPublica, X-ray Vans
May 12, 2016 8:16 PM

Five of Ohio’s public universities are putting their spending records online.

Ohio's state Treasurer Josh Mandel announced Tuesday that the universities will post their spending information on the state treasurer's online checkbook website next year. Miami, Bowling Green State, Central State, Wright State and Ohio universities are the first to join.

“Taxpayers, students, faculty and alumni have the right to know how money is being spent at universities,” Mandel told The Enquirer. “My goal is to empower the taxpayers to hold the public officials accountable.” Continue...


May 12, 2016 8:13 PM

Colorado lawmakers in 2016 rejected an opportunity to bring the state’s open-records law into the 21st century.

They also decided that wage-law violations should remain “trade secrets” and that internal affairs files on judicial branch employees should remain confidential, which isn’t the case for other state government workers.

On matters affecting public information, the General Assembly did little during this year’s session to improve access. The most significant legislative win for government transparency doesn’t actually affect governments. Continue...


May 12, 2016 8:11 PM

The Society of Professional Journalists and a host of other public-interest and media groups have weighed in on a high-profile public-records case now being considered by the California Supreme Court.

The lawsuit, appealed to the state high court by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, was rejected by a state appeals court last year.

The plaintiffs are seeking access to bulk data collected by automated license plate readers, technology deployed by numerous law enforcement agencies that collects and stores information about vehicle locations. Continue...


May 12, 2016 8:08 PM

'Kansas officials' emails about public business on private accounts or devices will be subject to public disclosure starting in July under a bill Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law Wednesday.

The law closes a big loophole in the Kansas Open Records Act . That decades-old law generally requires government records to be accessible to the public, but it hasn't specifically applied to officials' private email accounts or communications with private cellphones.

Legislators approved the measure after months of scrutiny of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as U.S. secretary of state. The issue also arose in Kansas following disclosures about Brownback and his budget director's use of private communications. Continue...


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