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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July 28, 2016 12:23 PM

Now that Senator Tim Kaine has joined the presidential ticket, his long public career is receiving new scrutiny. One aspect of that career is Kaine’s record on open government. 

Hillary Clinton may be in hot water for hiding her emails. But Tim Kaine has the opposite problem. He and his staff turned over so many records at the end of his time as governor that the Library of Virginia is still in the process of archiving them all. Archivist Roger Christman says the Library of Virginia’s online archive of Kaine’s emails is the first of its kind in the nation. Continue...

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July 28, 2016 11:37 AM

Wyoming state government is considering a proposed rule to allow state agencies to charge the public for staff time required to respond to requests to inspect electronic records.

While some media and public interest groups warn that enacting the rules could stifle public scrutiny of government operations, senior state lawmakers say the changes are necessary to keep agencies from getting swamped by information requests. Continue...

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July 28, 2016 11:31 AM

A new state law will make it expensive for local governments that choose not to comply with orders to turn over documents ruled public under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Gov. Bruce Rauner earlier this month signed House Bill 4715 into law, which significantly increases fines that can be levied against local governments if they violate court orders or binding attorney general’s opinions that a FOIA request denied by the body must be made public. The law is one of two signed by Rauner that collectively are called “Molly’s Law,” named in honor of a family that encountered roadblocks trying to investigate their young daughter’s death. Continue...

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July 28, 2016 9:45 AM

Are you better off now than you were three years ago? If you work in the U.S. Congress, probably not. Your workload has skyrocketed, your job has only gotten more complex, and what you’re paid is peanuts, considering you do one of the most difficult and important jobs in the United States of America.

It gets worse. The technology and resources legislative branch staffers have to accomplish their mission continue to be anything but adequate. It isn’t that there is no budget — Congress spent at least $288,000,000 on tech and digital in 2014, according our analysis of Congressional disbursement data. It is where and how those tax dollars are spent — really, the institutional information technology (IT) culture and rules—pointing to far greater hurdles standing between the Congress we have and the one we need. Continue...

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July 27, 2016 1:42 PM

View highlights from the blog and news feed from Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition here.

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July 27, 2016 12:23 PM

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg once called the New York Police Department “the seventh biggest army in the world”. Whether or not that stat is true, there’s no doubt the NYPD is a large and powerful organisation – and, as current mayor Bill de Blasio learned last year, it does not always take criticism well.

Enter Ben Wellington, a Brooklyn-based quantitative analyst who runs the storytelling-through-data website IQuantNY. The map above comes from a recent IQuantNY post examining New York City’s parking ticket data, which is freely available online. The red circles represent millions of dollars in erroneous parking tickets, issued by NYPD officers to vehicles that were in fact parked legally. Continue...

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July 27, 2016 12:18 PM

A yearslong push in San Diego to include city workers’ use of private devices for government business under the state’s public records law just hit another major snag, frustrating open government advocates and city lawmakers.

Council Member David Alvarez was backing an effort to put a measure on the issue on November’s ballot. If voters gave it their approval, it would have stopped city employees from circumventing public disclosure requirements simply by using their personal cell phones or computers instead of their government devices. Continue...

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July 27, 2016 12:01 PM

Today we are releasing a report on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program at the United States Secret Service (USSS), the fifth in our series of assessments of FOIA programs at components of the Department of Homeland Security. Like other OGIS reports on agency FOIA program assessments, the report includes findings and recommendations about the USSS FOIA Program.

USSS’s FOIA Program is centralized; program offices search for responsive records and the FOIA office processes them and responds to the requester. USSS accepts requests by mail, email, online using the DHS online submission form, or through the DHS FOIA app by mobile phone. Continue...

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July 26, 2016 10:30 AM

The New England First Amendment Coalition urged the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention today to reconsider proposed policy changes that would severely curtail the right of Maine residents to know the location of disease outbreaks in their communities.

“While these changes are intended to protect the privacy of individuals, they are neither necessary nor helpful to the public’s response to infectious disease outbreaks. Worse, they may jeopardize the safety of those who would otherwise learn of potential risks to their health,” wrote Justin Silverman, NEFAC’s executive director, in a July 25 letter to the center. Continue...

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July 26, 2016 10:25 AM

Just days after threat of legal action by The Schilling Show and attorney, Matt Hardin, Charlottesville City Hall has released an un-redacted copy of attorney Tom Wolf’s contract. Wolf has been retained by the city to confiscate property belonging to Mark Brown and the Charlottesville Parking Center through an attempted manipulation of eminent domain.

Having previously hidden Wolf’s $425 per hour rate behind a false shield of “attorney-client privilege” under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, Charlottesville City Attorney, Craig Brown, ultimately relented. Continue...

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July 26, 2016 10:04 AM

The Chief FOIA Officers Council, charged with addressing the most important difficulties in administering FOIA across government, met for the first time July 22 to begin the process of implementing a “release to one is a release to all” standard for federal records.

The policy would make agencies release FOIA-processed records to one requester and simultaneously to the general public by posting them online. Continue...

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July 25, 2016 12:22 PM

The Tennessee Press Association has awarded three members of the state General Assembly its 2016 Open Government Award for their support of government transparency.

Recipients include House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville, state Rep. Bob Ramsey, who is in his fourth term representing House District 20 in Blount County, and Rep. Bill Sanderson, who is in his third term representing the 77th House District, covering Lake, Dyer and parts of Obion County. Continue...

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