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/.
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December 12, 2016 8:51 PM

Vanessa Williamson and Norman Eisen, both fellows at the Brookings Institution, co-authored a working paper that "reviews the empirical and theoretical literature examining the international impact of open government, and offers recommendations for policymakers and an agenda for further research on the subject."

You can find the full text of the report here.

December 12, 2016 8:48 PM

The case between UK and the Kernel has been cited by other universities in multiple denials of documents and information, but some universities have released information about the numbers of investigations conducted.

Western Kentucky University and Kentucky State University denied all records in a fashion similar to UK.

Both Northern Kentucky University and Morehead State University supplied some documents related to cases already resolved, including emails sent to the accused at the end of investigations, but refused to provide documents they deemed to be “preliminary.”

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December 12, 2016 8:44 PM

Shawnee County attorneys redacted portions of a document that overviews possible problems and solutions at the county’s Emergency Communication Center — an entity that has been plagued in recent years with understaffing and steep criticism from city of Topeka officials.

The redactions were necessary to protect the identity of an undercover police officer and the integrity of the radio system, county counselor Jim Crowl said Tuesday. But open records experts have said the documents should remain open because they were introduced and discussed during a public meeting last week.

The disagreement highlights a growing gray area in Kansas public record law: when and how law enforcement documents discussed in an open meeting should be made available to the public.

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December 9, 2016 6:20 PM

Reinvent Albany is big champion of open government, and we cheer agency efforts to open data, provide maps, and chart data of particular public interest. As co-Chair of the NYC Transparency Working Group, we have also pushed NYC agencies to release data, including the NYPD. So, we were interested to see NYPD’s November 30th launch of an interactive map of the TrafficStat database. TrafficStat is a weekly meeting held at police headquarters with precinct command staff, who review NYPD efforts to reduce injuries and deaths to pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. According to NYPD, the new TrafficStat map uses the same data the police do.

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December 9, 2016 6:12 PM

Two years ago, the city of Chattanooga adopted an "open data" policy that made public huge amounts of information gathered every day by local government agencies.

Now a small nonprofit organization is calling on Hamilton County government to follow suit.

Metro Ideas Project, an independent, nonprofit research startup based in Chattanooga, has released a new project, Open Hamilton, that argues as much.

A report and tool kit presents what benefits the group sees in adopting such a policy, which members say would enhance public access to information ranging from sheriff's office incident reports to tax and appraisal data.

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December 9, 2016 6:10 PM

Back in February, a nonprofit group called Reclaim the Records filed requests for Missouri birth and death listings from 1910 through 2015.

The California-based outfit describes itself as a “group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates who are filing Freedom of Information requests to get public data released back into the public domain.”

The group sought the information under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. After more than four months, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) finally got back to Reclaim the Records with an estimate of what its request would cost.

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December 8, 2016 5:31 PM

An effort that proponents say would modernize Colorado's open records law for the digital era hit a bump last week when the state attorney general's office stated its opposition to the effort.

Deputy Attorney General David Blake, according to a statement read by a representative from his office at the meeting, said his office believes the proposal, in its current form, "creates more problems than it cures" and makes the Colorado Open Records Act "more complicated and vague."

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December 8, 2016 4:55 PM

Dash cam video recorded by police officers in the course of their duties is a public record generally available upon request, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

In a 7-0 ruling, the court said that some exceptions could be made for materials deemed to be investigatory work product by police, but that in general the recordings should be open to the public.

"The dash-cam recordings at issue here qualify as 'records' because they memorialize the activities of employees of the Ohio State Highway Patrol," Justice Judith French wrote in the majority opinion. "The dash-cam recordings fit within the definition of a 'record' because they document governmental activities, decisions, and operations during a traffic stop and pursuit."

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December 8, 2016 4:30 PM

A Republican state lawmaker said she will try again during the 2017 legislative session to make Colorado’s judicial branch subject to the state’s open-records law.

“It’s just so interesting that one branch of government thinks they should be held to a different standard,” Rep. Polly Lawrence of Douglas County told the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition. “We don’t let the executive branch write their own rules.”

The judicial branch is exempt from the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) because of two court rulings, including the Colorado Court of Appeals’ 2012 decision in Gleason v. Judicial Watch.

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December 7, 2016 1:58 PM

The Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled against the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in a public records dispute with Laramie County School District 1.

In a 3-2 decision issued Wednesday, the state’s highest court ruled that government agencies are allowed to charge people to look at electronic public records. The fee should be a reasonable charge for the cost of producing a copy of the record, the majority of the justices said.

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December 7, 2016 1:56 PM

When police cameras roll, they can capture captivating and informative images.  But not all of those videos are being released for public consumption.

In part because of haziness in Iowa law, disputes have arisen over when police dashboard and body camera footage should be made public and when it can be withheld by law enforcement.

“I don’t think there’s any uniform view,” said Margaret Johnson, the acting interim executive director for the Iowa Public Information Board, which manages information regarding and disputes concerning the state’s open records and open meetings laws.

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December 7, 2016 1:53 PM

The First Amendment Coalition awarded Ferndale Enterprise publisher/editor Caroline Titus the 2016 Free Speech & Open Government Award on Thursday during the California Press Foundation’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

“I am extremely proud to be honored by such a prestigious organization. I’m also honored to represent the 138-year-old Ferndale Enterprise and our readers who support our efforts to stand up for the First Amendment and open and transparent government,” she said in an email.

Titus was one of two journalists selected out of more than 24 nominees. This is the third award Titus has received this year for her First Amendment civil rights lawsuit filed in 2014 and a public records lawsuit against the Humboldt County Fair Association. Earlier this year the fair board settled for $150,000 with Titus in the wrongful termination and federal civil rights lawsuit and awarded her $45,000 in attorney’s fees for the public record lawsuit.

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