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

November 12, 2015 8:27 PM

OpenGov and Innovate Your State today announced that five California counties — Kern, Sutter, Placer, Napa, and Mendocino — have come forward as the first organizations to take advantage of grants offered by Innovate Your State to use the OpenGov platform for financial transparency and performance intelligence.

With the addition of these organizations, there are now 17 California counties that have deployed, or are in the process of deploying, OpenGov to give more than 10 million residents instant access to their county’s finances in an intuitive, digital format. Continue...

November 11, 2015 5:01 PM

An Oklahoma City Police data-sharing program recently introduced in the metro will soon allow the public to navigate and interact with crime data.

The program, called ATAC Raids, gives police officers in six surrounding communities the ability to share information easier.

“This is the information age,” said Paco Balderrama, with the Oklahoma City Police Department. “People want to know what’s going on.” Continue...


November 11, 2015 4:57 PM

A Pennsylvania House committee gave an overwhelming thumbs-up to a bill Tuesday that would make it illegal for public officials to release the names of cops who shoot civilians until an “official investigation” is completed.

The panel passed the legislation unanimously.

Republican State. Rep. Martina White, a freshman lawmaker from Philadelphia, introduced the bill.

"As we've seen throughout the country, police shootings involving police officers have become so politically charged that the officers' lives and their families can be endangered even if the use of force was justified," said White after the bill passed. "We need to balance transparency with some basic protections for our law enforcement officers." Continue... 


November 11, 2015 1:55 PM

I recently saw a T-shirt that said, “Data is the new bacon.” And it certainly seems that way — everyone is hungry to find, acquire and consume data, and the market is answering the call.

In the past few months, we have seen the White House launch a new Smart Cities Initiative and host a forum on citizen science and crowdsourcing. General Electric started rebranding itself as a digital company helping cities become more intelligent. My own organization, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Government Excellence, through our partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities program, is helping 100 mid-size cities accelerate their use of data and evidence to improve people’s lives.

As this data consumption becomes increasingly widespread, practitioners must avoid using technical jargon that not every public servant, let alone the public, can decipher. The esoteric language can be alienating and seem far removed from the problems governments need to solve. Continue...


November 11, 2015 1:49 PM

Florida’s expansive open records laws have IT leaders preparing a new push to open up the state’s data.

Jason Allison, the state’s chief information officer, said staff at his Agency for State Technology are taking steps to start the “inventory process” of cataloging all of Florida’s data, as they attempt to meet the standard laid out by the law that “all information is public information.” Continue...

November 11, 2015 1:46 PM

No one who's paid any attention should be surprised that Oklahoma fared poorly in a nationwide study of government transparency. The fight for more openness throughout government has been ongoing for years.

In its new study, which looked at how states have implemented laws and practices meant to keep residents informed, the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity gave Oklahoma an F grade. We were one of 11 states to score so poorly. Continue...

November 10, 2015 2:07 PM

Members of the Texas Press Association this week named Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) a ‘Champion of Transparency.'

Senator Nichols was honored for his work in ensuring there is transparency in government by providing Texans with access to governmental meeting and records, as well as ensuring public notices, required of governmental bodies, are available in newspapers. Continue...

November 10, 2015 2:00 PM

State Police have objected to a proposal to strengthen Massachusetts public records laws in meetings on Beacon Hill, the latest sign of government resistance to a measure designed to make documents more readily available to the public.

State Police Colonel Richard D. McKeon and a State Police lieutenant “expressed a number of concerns about the bill” in two meetings with House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo over the last four months, according to Seth Gitell, a DeLeo spokesman.

Neither the State Police nor Gitell would provide details about the objections, but the force has repeatedly clashed with journalists over its refusal to release some documents, such as information about troopers charged with operating under the influence. Continue...


November 10, 2015 1:56 PM

In November 2014, Arkansas voters approved a ballot measure that, among other reforms, barred the state’s elected officials from accepting lobbyists’ gifts.

But that hasn’t stopped influence peddlers from continuing to provide meals to lawmakers at the luxurious Capital Hotel or in top Little Rock eateries like the Brave New Restaurant; the prohibition does not apply to “food or drink available at a planned activity to which a specific governmental body is invited,” so lobbyists can buy meals so long as they invite an entire legislative committee.

Such loopholes are a common part of statehouse culture nationwide, according to the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven assessment of state government by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Continue...


November 10, 2015 1:52 PM

It seemed like a silly question, but as the new guy, I was obliged to ask: “Can I e-mail a copy of my report to my mother?”

Mom had been a local reporter when I was a kid and worked for a county government in Ohio. She has always had a bottomless appetite for politics and government, and her retirement years afforded plenty of time to read. I figured she would find my first Congressional Research Service report interesting. I also thought she would be proud to see her son published by such a prestigious organization.

“Well,” a supervisor told me, “strictly speaking, no. Only Congress may distribute our reports to the public.” Continue...


November 10, 2015 1:48 PM

A D.C. government task force of officials and citizens on education no longer plans to meet in secret for two years as it develops recommendations for the mayor on the visible and sensitive subject of improved collaboration between schools in the two sectors, charters and DCPS.

The task force website wasn’t updated as of Sunday, still reporting “meetings will be closed to the public.” But officials let it be known this week they plan to change course.

The move came in response to a legal opinion from the Office of Open Government that the task force is a public body under the D.C. Open Meetings Act and must therefore do its work in public. The D.C. Council in the original Act directed the Office to review complaints of violations and issue opinions that public bodies such as boards, commissions and task forces must follow. Continue...


November 9, 2015 2:36 PM

Beneath the soaring dome of Mississippi’s Capitol building, lights shine on a small bust of a blindfolded woman meant to portray “blind justice.” But she could just as easily represent the 3 million citizens of this deeply conservative Southern state, where transparency and accountability often seem like little more than abstract notions.

Political candidates are free to raise unlimited sums here and can spend that money largely as they choose, even for personal use. Both the legislative and judicial branches are largely exempt from the state’s open records law. The state ethics commission rarely uses its power to investigate public officials and does not make public all of the cases it does pursue. Continue...

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