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 22, 2011 5:24 PM

September 22, 2011

From The Kansas City Star:

In a letter to key members of Congress and to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, six prominent journalism organizations are asking that a database containing statistical information on doctors’ malpractice histories be made public again.

The National Practitioner Data Bank took its public use file off its website Sept. 1 after it learned that The Kansas City Star was able to glean information about a Johnson County neurosurgeon from anonymous data in the files. Previously, other newspapers have identified doctors from the public use file without repercussions.

September 22, 2011 12:04 PM

September 22, 2011

From American University Washington College of Law:

American University Washington College of Law presents its Fifth Annual International Right-to-Know-Day Celebration Wednesday, Sept. 28, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. The event will convene nearly 20 leaders on international transparency issues, including a former State Department spokesman, a senior advisor at the Open Society Institute, and the Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs. The event is presented by the law school’s Collaboration on Government Secrecy.

In a development that barely could have been envisioned by the authors of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) four decades ago, and with a force that has been accelerating around the globe, people in more than 85 nations of the world now enjoy the benefits of government transparency laws akin to the FOIA.

In the United States, “Freedom of Information Day" is celebrated each year on March 16, the birthday of James Madison, and since 2002 members of the international transparency community around the world likewise have celebrated annual “International Right-to-Know Day” on Sept. 28, a day marking their progress and unity.

September 21, 2011 5:08 PM

September 21, 2011

Iowa Freedom of Information Council's annual meeting will be held Friday, Oct. 7, beginning at noon in Levitt Hall of Old Main at Drake University.

The topic of the meeting is media coverage of the judiciary. A panel of judges, lawyers and other experts will lead the discussion.

Reservations are $15 and include lunch. To reserve a spot or for more information, contact Kathleen Richardson or 515-271-2295.

September 21, 2011 4:56 PM

September 21, 2011

From Courthouse News Service:

VISTA, Calif. - A North San Diego County hospital district wants to stop the San Diego Union-Tribune from publishing "privileged and confidential communications" it accidentally sent to the newspaper in response to a public records request.

Tri-City Healthcare District seeks an injunction forcing the newspaper to return documents "inadvertently" sent by mail earlier this month.

September 21, 2011 4:51 PM

September 21, 2011


The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against the University of Florida alleging that it is violating Florida's public records law by not releasing details of scientific reviews of a controversial paper on fertilizer restrictions.

The 2009 paper, known as "Unintended Consequences," backs away from earlier recommendations by the university's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to restrict how and when fertilizer is applied to keep it from polluting waterways, where it blamed for causing devastating algae blooms.

September 21, 2011 4:42 PM

September 21, 2011

From Billings Gazette:

HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Supreme Court has suspended its rules governing access to court records, a move that a freedom of information advocate says may result in a step backward in the public's ability to obtain or view those documents.

The rules for privacy and public access to court records in Montana, adopted in 2007 and amended the next year, were meant to provide a uniform policy for the state court system in anticipation of the records becoming available on the Internet. The aim was to maximize public access while protecting individual privacy rights.

September 21, 2011 4:36 PM

September 21, 2011

From Information Week:

President Obama on Tuesday urged world leaders to push forward with transparency and citizen engagement, calling open government "the essence of democracy." At the same time, the White House rolled out the next phase of its own open government strategy.

The occasion marked the launch of the Open Government Partnership, a 46-nation effort to improve government transparency. The partnership Tuesday issued an Open Government Declaration pledging transparency, citizen engagement, and increased access to technology.

September 21, 2011 3:51 PM

September 21, 2011


State Treasurer Curtis Loftis says the cash-starved state Department of Transportation is dragging its feet on providing him information, so he’s embraced a tool typically used by news organizations in an effort to compel the agency to respond.


Loftis on Wednesday filed a formal Freedom of Information Act request with DOT seeking the information, including detailed monthly analysis of overdue payments, other payment delay information dating back to January 2010 and a cash flow forecast.

September 21, 2011 3:31 PM

September 21, 2011

From Student Press Law Center:

New Jersey’s Supreme Court has struck a decisive blow for the transparency of government spending, ruling that lobbying groups created by government agencies cannot hide behind their “private” corporate status to conceal their records.

The Aug. 23 ruling strengthens the case for journalists and citizen watchdogs everywhere to seek greater public accountability for the powerful special-interest lobbies that represent school boards, cities, counties and other units of government.

September 21, 2011 3:22 PM

September 21, 2011


The Senate is pushing a revamped bill to overhaul the state Sunshine Law, key lawmakers say.

Bill sponsor state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, said she’s been paying close attention to Courier-Post reports of elected officials’ prohibited email quorums and ensuing county prosecutors’ investigations.

September 21, 2011 3:17 PM

September 21, 2011


WASHINGTON, PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- NASA is announcing the International Space Apps Competition to support the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which President Barack Obama announced Tuesday. The challenge will culminate with a two-day event next year that will provide an opportunity for government to use the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of citizen explorers to help address global challenges.

During the event, NASA representatives and officials from international space agencies will gather with scientists and citizens to use publicly-released scientific data to create solutions for issues, such as weather impact on the global economy and depletion of ocean resources.

September 20, 2011 9:40 AM

September 20, 2011

From The Burlington Free Press:

COLCHESTER -- St. Michael's College and the Vermont Press Association will host Investigative Reporters and Editors and its Better Watchdog Workshop for professional, student and citizen journalists Oct. 1-2.

Seven educational sessions, including Watchdogging Local Government, Quick Hit Investigations, the Art of the Interview, FOI/Public Records are planned for Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Cheray Science Hall at St. Michael's. The cost is $45 with a student rate of $15.

More details here.

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