FOI Advocate News Blog

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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

July 30, 2015 10:35 AM

The majority of open data portals online today are confined to information from a single city government or political jurisdiction.  For researchers, policymakers, or other data portal users, this can create problems: we know that urban landscapes are complex, interconnected places that do not exist within the bounds of a single government entity.  What if, say, I want to see a map of recent traffic accidents in Manhattan, and understand if weather conditions have an effect?  Or what if I want to see if there’s a connection in Chicago between sanitation complaints and environmental inspections?

Finding the answers to such questions is not an easy one; it would require looking at datasets from the City of New York and NOAA, and the City of Chicago and Cook County, respectively.  Each question requires an awkward compare-and-contrast between data from separate government portals.  What’s a researcher to do?  Continue>>>


July 30, 2015 10:26 AM

The first day of testimony began on Wednesday in a trial to decide whether the Sumner County Board of Education violated the Tennessee Public Records Act by not responding to a Joelton man’s email request.

Ken Jakes filed a lawsuit in Sumner County Chancery Court in April 2014 challenging the school board’s policy requiring a citizen wanting to inspect a public document to submit the request in person or via U.S. mail rather than email.  Continue>>>


July 29, 2015 12:47 PM

Attorney General Brad Schimel began his first meeting on open government issues by addressing the "elephant in the room."

"Messing with open government laws is like touching the third rail," Schimel told a crowd of more than 100 on Wednesday morning at the Madison Concourse Hotel. "I think that experience ... well, it's been learned recently."  Continue>>>


July 29, 2015 12:37 PM

Registration is now open for FAF's Fall Sunshine Seminars! Continue>>>


July 29, 2015 12:33 PM

RALEIGH — A bill that would allow quicker changes to North Carolina's execution process and block information about the manufacturing of lethal injection drugs has passed the legislature and is going to the governor.

The House on Wednesday agreed with changes made by the Senate earlier this week allowing parts of the law to stand if one portion is struck down in court. Lawmakers supporting the bill say they expect lengthy legal challenges.  Continue>>>


July 28, 2015 12:21 PM

As a part of the United States’ Second Open Government National Action Plan commitment to further modernize FOIA, in 2014 OIP launched the Best Practices Workshop series as a way to share and leverage successes in FOIA administration across the government. Today we are announcing details for the second slate of topics and workshops in this series.

Each workshop in the series focuses on a specific topical area and will include a panel of representatives that will share their success stories and strategies. For example, some of the topics covered in the first series of workshops included panels on reducing backlogs, proactive disclosures, and implementing technology in FOIA administration. Continue>>>


July 28, 2015 10:44 AM

Here's something that ought to earn the Sunlight Foundation several shots of Pappy Van Winkle: a new open data tool that makes it easier than ever to have a look at the inner workings of Pennsylvania's state legislature.

Open States aggregates all the legislative data pertaining to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including the nearly 3,000 bills that have been introduced so far — and the 47 bills that have been approved by Governor Tom Wolf — in this year's regular session.  Continue>>>


July 28, 2015 9:55 AM

While U.S. Special Operations Command has seen a dramatic increase in personnel and funding since the beginning of the war on terror, the Defense Department still is unable to accurately provide detailed funding numbers across the services, leaving decision makers in the dark on exactly how much money goes toward special operations, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The report, dated July 16, states that USSOCOM’s total personnel has jumped from 42,800 in 2001 to 62,800 in 2014, a rise of about 47 percent since before the war in Afghanistan kicked off. In that same time, allotted funding climbed from $3.1 billion to $9.8 billion, GAO found. Continue>>>


July 28, 2015 9:33 AM

BOSTON — Reform of the decades-old public records law is getting strong support on Beacon Hill, but many lawmakers balk at lifting exemptions to open-government laws that shield much of their work from public view.

Lawmakers could vote this week on a proposal filed by Sen. Jason Lewis, D-Winchester, and Rep. Peter Kocot, D-Northampton to limit fees for requests for government records. It directs cities, towns and government agencies to appoint someone to handle such requests and make available electronic versions of documents.  Continue>>>


July 27, 2015 3:36 PM

On August 21, Union County Superior Court Judge James Hely is scheduled to hear argument in a case against the Summit Housing Authority for non-compliance with New Jersey's open public meetings law.  The matter is currently set for 9 a.m. in Elizabeth.

The case, which alleges multiple violations of the state's Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) , was filed by the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) earlier this year. It's the latest of several "affirmative litigation" lawsuits brought by the public advocacy group to draw attention to such violations and encourage greater voluntary compliance with the law by public agencies statewide.  Continue>>>


July 27, 2015 10:05 AM

The D.C. Open Government Coalition (DCOGC) July 27 released a comprehensive look at how each state and 15 of the largest cities are addressing through legislation and policies key issues surrounding implementation of police body cameras. This report is the first to compile a panoply of legislation, policies, regulations and current law into a single, easily accessible and reviewable document.

   “As we were preparing testimony for a hearing of the Committee on the Judiciary of the Council of the District of Columbia, we realized that we might benefit from seeing how other states and large cities had approached the issue and whether any trends or even best practices were emerging,” said Kevin M. Goldberg, Coalition president.  Continue>>>


July 27, 2015 10:00 AM

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia state government and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business will again work together on data re-engineering internships to explore the use of data to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of state government.

In the 2014-2015 school year, the data internship program’s first, 45 graduate students and more than 20 state agencies participated. Those internships have resulted in tangible dollar savings and improved agency processes. Student/agency teams have worked on successful projects, such as improving how the state prices and sells its goods and services, and more efficiently matching citizens to benefits when they enroll.  Continue>>>


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