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

September 21, 2016 9:19 AM

The Montana State Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to review the disciplinary records related to a former University of Montana student and determine which, if any, can be released to author Jon Krakauer.

In an opinion released Monday, the court both affirmed in part and reversed in part a previous order by Lewis and Clark County District Court that all the records be released. The Montana Supreme Court said that while the District Court had correctly ruled Krakauer, who lives in Colorado, could make the request under Montana’s right to know law, the student’s education records have a heightened level of privacy protection that the lower court needed to balance with that right.


September 21, 2016 9:14 AM

Read the original statement here.

From Politico:

One of Washington's leading voices for transparency and public access to government data, the Sunlight Foundation, is planning to shut down much of its operation and may merge into another organization.

Sunlight was an early innovator at easing online public access to campaign finance and legislative information, but earlier this year it shut down its OpenCongress database, saying others were providing similar tools. Klein said Tuesday that Sunlight plans to no longer maintain its government databases and will be seeking to transfer some projects to others.


September 20, 2016 10:34 AM

The gas industry is pushing for a delay in new Virginia drilling regulations until it can get state law changed to protect key information about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

These regulations, the result of a review that started at the end of 2013, are slated to be finalized shortly before the end of the year. Industry lobbyists this week asked legislators on a commission that monitors the executive branch's regulatory process to help delay implementation until at least July 2017.


September 20, 2016 10:31 AM

The Miami Herald filed suit Friday against Miami-Dade County seeking to force the county to disclose records showing the locations where mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus have been trapped.

Miami Beach residents need to know where the mosquitoes have been found so they can intelligently debate whether spraying a controversial insecticide over “the entirety of a 1.5 square mile densely populated area” is justified, the lawsuit said, asking for a quick hearing in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.


September 20, 2016 10:23 AM

With the public demanding greater access to police documents and videos, two cases in the Lehigh Valley area could help shape legal precedent about what records must be released.

A Northampton County judge will decide whether the public is entitled to see complaints filed by citizens against a police officer. That case stems from a Bethlehem resident's request for complaint and disciplinary records about a Bethlehem officer.


September 19, 2016 1:45 PM

Louisville Public Media and Kentucky Public Radio have sued the University of Louisville Foundation claiming that it has failed to comply with Kentucky Open Records Law.

In the suit filed Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court, the media company that runs WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting claims that it requested documents from the foundation in February and that the foundation didn't respond within the three business days allowable under the law. Then, the foundation claimed that some of the document requests were too burdensome.


September 19, 2016 1:43 PM

NEW YORK - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today officially launched the USDA Branded Food Products Database, a free online resource for families, the food industry and researchers containing nutrition details on more than 80,000 name brand prepared and packaged foods available at restaurants and grocery stores. The announcement was made at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit.


open data, USDA
September 19, 2016 1:42 PM

Universities and drug companies that use human volunteers for research face tough new rules designed to make sure that valuable information from these volunteers is widely available, not only to the volunteers themselves but to scientists trying to advance medical science.


September 16, 2016 9:22 AM

The Supreme Court of Texas heard arguments Wednesday on whether to write a loophole into state public records law that would allow government agencies to avoid public scrutiny and disregard basic public records procedures simply by invoking “magic words.”

The court could also decide to eliminate a previous loophole it created, but most of its public records decisions in recent years have favored government secrecy over the transparency that Texas law used to be known for.


September 16, 2016 9:19 AM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Police dash camera videos that are routinely released in other states could become more available for public view in Pennsylvania under a case argued Wednesday before the state Supreme Court.

A state police lawyer voiced strong opposition, saying existing law largely prevents disclosure and warning a change in policy could be costly for police agencies, compromise investigations and expose details about private citizens against their wishes.


September 16, 2016 9:09 AM

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016, (TechCrunch) had a chance to chat with DJ Patil, the nation’s deputy chief technology officer for data policy and chief data scientist. (they) talked about what he’s been up to at the White House lately, the criminal justice system and a recently-launched data justice initiative.

Since the launch of the White House’s Police Data Initiative in May 2015, 75 police jurisdictions have collectively released more than 150 data sets about policing, including information around the use of force and traffic stops.


September 16, 2016 9:05 AM

The Freedom of Information Act could be changing in Michigan.

A House committee approved a bill Thursday that would prevent public bodies like the government from suing someone that requests information through a FOIA request. The bill is part of a larger attempt by lawmakers to make FOIA more transparent.


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