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/.
On his first day in office in 2009, President Obama promised that transparency would be one of the "touchstones of this presidency."
Advocates for open government were ecstatic at the promise of less secrecy and the president's directive to all government agencies that "in the face of doubt, openness prevails."
THE WHITE HOUSE: We're committed to openness. Continue>>>
A House-passed bill allowing South Carolina public agencies to take legal action against citizens who file “unduly burdensome” or “overly broad” open-records requests could be the first law of its kind in the country if enacted, several legal observers say.
“It’s a terrible, terrible idea,” said Adam Marshall, the Jack Nelson-Dow Jones Foundation Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., when contacted last week by The Nerve. “It gives too much discretion to the agency to employ these measures.”
Under a bill (H. 3191) sponsored by state Rep. Weston Newton, R-Beaufort and an attorney, a public body could seek a hearing before a newly created “Office of Freedom of Information Act Review,” which would be a division of the S.C. Administrative Law Court, to “seek relief from unduly burdensome, overly broad, or otherwise improper requests.” Continue>>>
After the scandal that sent former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to prison, lawmakers adopted a raft of reforms that included creating a referee to intervene when bureaucrats reject citizens’ requests for government records.
Five years later, the “public access counselor” in the attorney general’s office has yet to respond to more than 2,800 appeals of Freedom of Information Act requests for information that a government agency deemed secret, according to an analysis of records obtained by The Associated Press.
That’s about one in five of all FOIA appeals submitted to the office since the law took effect in 2010. Continue>>>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2015
David Cuillier, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee chair, 520-248-6242 (PDT), email@example.com
Barbara Petersen, President, NFOIC, 573-882-4856, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134, email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS/Jefferson City – The Society of Professional Journalists and the National Freedom of Information Coalition are joining forces – and legal war chests – to help citizens and journalists fight for public records.
The two groups will band together to help litigants who sue for access to government information. The NFOIC can provide court fees and SPJ help for attorney fees. Both organizations also will use their combined national networks of journalists and citizens to apply public pressure to government agencies that flaunt the law.
“This is such an exciting collaborative project, one that will lend significant weight to our collective efforts in preserving our right of government oversight and accountability,” said Barbara Petersen, NFOIC president. “I’m honored to be part of it.”
As part of the partnership approved during national Sunshine Week, SPJ and NFOIC will:
“More than ever, it’s essential for groups to unite in helping citizens fight for government information,” said David Cuillier, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee chair. “Together we are much more powerful against a system that is not weighted in the public’s favor.”
The SPJ Legal Defense Fund was created in 1972 to fight for the First Amendment, primarily for public records and open meetings. Litigants apply for funds and the applications are considered by a six-member committee, aided by SPJ’s attorney. The committee can provide grants of up to $5,000, and larger amounts are considered by the SPJ Board of Directors. The fund has about $75,000 available, and is replenished by donations, interest and an annual auction. In 2014 the SPJ Board approved the creation of an endowed advocacy fund that can also be used for litigation. The endowment currently generates about $4,000 annually.
The Knight FOI Fund was created by NFOIC in 2010 through a grant from the Knight Foundation to help litigants fight for open government. The fund pays for court costs, filing fees, depositions and related expenses, typically $2,000-$3,000 per case. The fund, currently at $444,000, does not pay for attorney fees, nor dictate what attorney is used in the case. The fund stipulates that if the grantee wins and receives an award then they must repay NFOIC. A Litigation Committee decides the merits of applications.
Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition is a national organization that supports our right to open government. Forty-four state and regional coalitions are currently connected through the NFOIC, representing a nonpartisan alliance promoting collaboration, education and advocacy for open government, transparency and freedom of information. Visit nfoic.org