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 http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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June 4, 2015 10:11 AM

As Treasurer of Ohio, I believe taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are spent. All too often, we the people aren’t able to follow our money once we write a check to city hall, the state capital or Washington D.C.

The concept is simple. When government is big, the people are small. But when government is small, the people are big. As someone who sees his boss as the 11.5 million people of Ohio, I am all about power to the people.

So this past December I launched OhioCheckbook.com, which for the first time in Ohio history puts every single state expenditure online. $408 billion of state spending over the past seven fiscal years is now at the fingertips of anyone with an Internet connection – from $2 for a pack of pencils to $2 million for road expenditures, and everything in between.  Continue>>>

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June 4, 2015 10:04 AM

MONTGOMERY - The Alabama House on Tuesday passed legislation to tighten the state law requiring city councils, county commissions and other governing bodies to meet in public.

The bill, which passed 91-4, would prohibit boards and committees from holding a series of meetings of a few members behind closed doors.

The legislation aims to remove a loophole in legislation approved in 2005 that allows a sub-quorum of two or more members of a board to hold secret meetings.  Continue>>>

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June 3, 2015 2:40 PM

AUSTIN - A measure that would make private university police reports subject to Texas' open-government laws was one of a number of transparency measures approved by the Legislature this session.

Senate Bill 308, authored by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, was filed in response to a student who was fatally shot by University of Incarnate Word police officers in San Antonio, and another incident at Rice University.

Those police departments refused to give up records because, as private universities, they were not subject to the state's open records law.  Continue>>>

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June 3, 2015 2:40 PM

AUSTIN - A measure that would make private university police reports subject to Texas' open-government laws was one of a number of transparency measures approved by the Legislature this session.

Senate Bill 308, authored by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, was filed in response to a student who was fatally shot by University of Incarnate Word police officers in San Antonio, and another incident at Rice University.

Those police departments refused to give up records because, as private universities, they were not subject to the state's open records law.  Continue>>>

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June 3, 2015 2:23 PM

HARTFORD — A bipartisan bill that seeks greater accountability and transparency from the operators of the state's 22 public charter schools got resounding approval in both the Senate and the House Tuesday and will now move to the governor's desk.

"I think it's critical if we are going to have charter schools and add charter schools ... that we have transparency," Sen. Beth Bye, co-chairwoman of the legislature's appropriations committee, said early Tuesday morning. "When you take public money and invest in anything, we need to have utter transparency."  Continue>>>

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June 3, 2015 2:16 PM

A House panel passed a bill aimed at making the FCC more transparent on Wednesday over the objections of Democrats who opposed a trio of Republican amendments on what was originally a bipartisan measure.

The FCC Process Reform Act was approved by the House Energy and Commerce committee through a voice vote.

The bill institutes reforms to the way the commission goes about its business and comes after the FCC handed down its controversial net neutrality rules.  Continue>>>

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June 2, 2015 12:24 PM

New documents shed light on a quiet campaign by federal agencies to shape legislation that would strengthen the Freedom of Information Act.

Emails between staff for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and congressional aides, obtained by Greenwire under FOIA, show financial regulators' heightened interest in and attempts to change S. 337 and H.R. 653, two bills moving on Capitol Hill that would reform the public records law.  Continue>>>

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June 2, 2015 12:15 PM

The Department of Health and Human Services last week unveiled a redesign of its data repository, HealthData.gov.

The site aims to make government health-related data sets more accessible to the public for analysis; the new HealthData.gov migrated old content to DKAN, an open-source, Drupal-based platform built by NuCivic, a tech company based in New York. Continue>>>

June 2, 2015 12:09 PM

Madison— Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is creating an Office of Open Government to help the public obtain government records more quickly and consistently.

The Republican attorney general said he wants to ensure that his office is being timely in releasing records such as Department of Justice investigations into shootings by police officers and that the agency is applying state law in a similar manner across the board whenever a member of the public requests government records.  Continue>>>

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June 2, 2015 12:03 PM

Government data is changing what we know about the work doctors do, and is giving developers the ability to transform that data into useful tools.

For the second year running, the government has released information on how doctors and other providers are charging Medicare. The physician utilization data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, covering $90 billion in payments across 950,000 providers, gives developers the raw material to build tools that allow for the comparison of doctors on a number of criteria, such as services delivered, charges submitted, and more.  Continue>>>

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June 2, 2015 11:50 AM

Police shootings in the U.S. have taken over the national spotlight during the past year, triggering a rash of legislative proposals on the need for body-worn cameras. From bills that mandate police use of the technology, to others that set up policy guidelines for how the cameras should be used, the issue has exploded in state legislatures.

Thirty-six states are currently looking at approximately 100 bills related to body-worn cameras according to the Security Industry Association. And while many state legislative sessions draw to a close later this month, experts expect the topic to continue to be a hot one for the foreseeable future, particularly as the number of fatalities from police gunshots nears 400 this year.  Continue>>>

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June 2, 2015 11:36 AM

HEARING PURPOSE:

This hearing will examine the processes agencies use to meet FOIA’s legal requirements and explore barriers to effective and efficient compliance from the FOIA officer’s perspective. The Committee will hear from the witnesses tasked with implementing FOIA at several agencies that need to improve response efforts. View live streaming here

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