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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June 2, 2016 9:54 AM

The State Department is seeking to reject demands from the Republican Party that the diplomatic agency turn over hundreds of thousands of emails sent or received by several former aides to Hillary Clinton.

Justice Department lawyers representing State said in a court filing Wednesday night that complying with the Republican National Committee's Freedom of Information Act request "would impose an unreasonable burden on the agency."  Continue...

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June 2, 2016 9:49 AM

The D.C. public records law requires agencies to respond when they get a “request reasonably describing any public record.” 

But the text begs the questions – what’s reasonable? And does an agency get to decide, on its own, whether or not to process a broad request it considers vague and which would likely yield thousands of pages of responsive records?  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:39 PM

In this episode of the 10 Blocks podcast, City Journal editor Brian Anderson interviews Nicole Gelinas, author of the recent City Journal article “The Fourth Urban Revolution,” about the role of big data in effective urban planning.  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:35 PM

On Friday, May 27, a judge resoundingly rejected Gov. Scott Walker's elaborate efforts to hide from the public his role in deleting "the search for truth" and the Wisconsin Idea from the UW's mission statement.

And his effort to throw a cloak of secrecy over a wide range of decision making under the guise of protecting government "deliberations" from public view was also repudiated.  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:29 PM

Across the country, state officials, power companies and environmental advocates are participating in closed-door meetings to discuss the future of the Clean Power Plan.

While state agencies have made parts of their planning talks public, transparency experts say the common practice of holding parallel private discussions could deprive people of insight into preparations for a regulation that stands to affect power prices and public health for decades to come. They also say it may give utilities an early opportunity to sway discussions to their benefit.  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:24 PM

A legislative effort to open some law-enforcement personnel records up to public scrutiny died a quiet death in the Capitol last week.

Under current law, police personnel files — including complaints filed against individual officers through internal-affairs units and independent civilian oversight agencies — are considered off-limits to the public. But Senate Bill 1286, authored by State Senator Mark Leno, would have mandated the release of substantiated complaints of civil-rights violations or excessive force.  Continue...

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June 1, 2016 1:18 PM

The Senate has rejected an attempt by House lawmakers to substitute revisions to the state Freedom of Information Act in a bill passed by the Senate to regulate the release of police dash cam video.

The House made the swap after a senator halted progress of the FOIA bill in the Senate. Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year on Thursday. Continue...

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May 31, 2016 9:38 AM

In a step toward compliance with state law, and the latest in a series of steps to generate transparency in local government, the Jackson City Council posted its agenda packet for next week's meeting online: a first for the Jackson municipal government. Those documents are the back-up materials that council members get for discussions during meetings.

"People want to be able to see primary source documents because the Internet and technology make it so easy to see primary source documents," Council President Melvin Priester Jr. told the Jackson Free Press during an interview in March about transparency.  Continue...

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May 31, 2016 9:29 AM

If there were to be a copyright on public records in this state what would it else would it be other than "the people of the State of California?"

After all, the people already pay for and own the records. But among the anti-transparency bills playing out in Sacramento this spring is one that would give local agencies copyright of the records they create. Continue...

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May 31, 2016 9:15 AM

This section contains FOIA reports submitted since Fiscal Year (FY) 1997, in accordance with the provisions of the Electronic FOIA Amendments of 1996. These reports contain basic information, including:

--how and where to make FOIA requests,
--definitions of terms,
--program costs, and
--annual processing statistics such as cases processed and use of exemptions.  

Continue...

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May 31, 2016 9:09 AM

It started out simply: Quartz's David Yanofsky was reporting a story about the number of Brazilians who visit Disney World each year. He needed data about who was entering the United States, and when, where, and why. When he found the information he was looking for, he got some bad news: he'd have to buy it.

A subset of the Department of Commerce was charging $173,775* for the data. Attempts to get the data through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a regular outlet for journalists, were unsuccessful. Why sell? "Because they can," Yanofsky says. Continue...

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May 31, 2016 8:42 AM

Ohioans who want to check out their school district or city won't learn much from a fraud-complaint database maintained by Auditor Dave Yost.

Since lawmakers mandated the list — and limited, specified information — be placed online in 2012, the auditor's office has received nearly 2,500 complaints.  Continue...

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