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 28, 2015 2:44 PM

The Tenth “Sunshine Week” ended on March 21. This annual celebration of open government was created by the American Society of News Editors with a grant from the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation.

Now co-sponsored by ASNE and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Sunshine Week is intended to highlight the importance of open government around the country. All indications pointed to the fact that this year’s Sunshine Week was one of the best yet. Continue...


ASNE, opengov, sunshine week
September 28, 2015 2:40 PM

A legislative panel advanced a bill Thursday that would prevent nearly all student emails, including those to and from student government representatives, from being publicly released.

The Task Force on Digital Information Privacy voted to recommend the proposal that would provide an exemption to the state’s public records act for student-to-student emails and other emails students send or receive from a “non-school user address.” Continue...


September 25, 2015 9:00 AM

The Chicago Tribune filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that Mayor Rahm Emanuel violated state open records laws by refusing to release communications about city business conducted through private emails and text messages.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, asks a judge to order the mayor to comply with a state Freedom of Information Act request from the Tribune and produce the documents. The lawsuit also seeks to have Emanuel declared in violation of the Illinois Local Records Act for failing to preserve emails and texts he sent or received while doing city business. Continue…


September 25, 2015 9:00 AM

“Cameras, Cops and Accountability,” a Newseum TV event co-sponsored by the D.C. Open Government Coalition, featured a panel discussion on the legal and policy considerations regarding public access to police body camera footage.

Although the panel addressed body camera policy nationwide, the main focus was on access to body camera videos, legislation and proposed regulations in the District of Columbia. Continue…


September 24, 2015 10:42 PM

Governments across the country are striving to meet a call to transparency by upping their data collection and analysis efforts. But with this trend toward big data comes an influx of “bad data” — inaccurate, outdated or misused information that leads to ill-informed policies, misled initiatives and an ensuing lack of citizen trust.

A technology adviser offers four methods for keeping government data as accurate as possible. Continue…


September 24, 2015 10:11 PM

Massachusetts State Rep. Dennis Rosa said the introduction of House Bill 3665 — titled “An Act to improve public records” — is attempt to bring Massachusetts up to par with the other states.

The proposed law would not change any rules about what information has to be made public, but would make sure that the law is actually followed and would guarantee that the public’s right to that information is more than mere words on a piece of paper, Rosa said. Continue…


September 24, 2015 9:51 PM

State Sen. Larry Martin said he plans to introduce a bill that would require law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to get approval from a judge to withhold videos taken at the scene of a crime beyond the period allowed in the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The legislation comes at a time when video shot from the dashboard camera of a police vehicle has been withheld from the family of a teenager who was shot and killed by a Seneca Police officer, as well as from The Greenville News and other media outlets that have filed Freedom of Information Act requests. Continue…


September 24, 2015 2:02 PM

Weighing in on an open-records case involving some of Kentucky's most vulnerable residents, a divided state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an advocacy group failed to qualify for access to documents related to the deaths of some people in the state's care.

The case pitted the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services against the nonprofit Council on Developmental Disabilities. Continue...


September 24, 2015 1:59 PM

In 1887, the Legislative Assembly of the Dakota Territory commanded that city councils "shall sit with open doors and shall keep a journal of their own proceedings."

Open meetings and open records have been a part of North Dakota law ever since. Now, it's time for an update of those laws—and North Dakota is asking for residents' help. Continue...


September 24, 2015 1:52 PM

Colorado lawmakers say they’ll push a measure to force the state judiciary to disclose how it spends its money and disciplines employees.

A bipartisan trio of lawmakers announced this week they’re crafting a bill for next year. Their announcement comes just as the Judicial Department is in the process of adopting new rules over what records are considered public – rules that lawmakers contend don’t go far enough to ensure openness. Continue...


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...


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