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

November 1, 2015 11:55 PM

Frustrated by the lack of legislative oversight in Kentucky's struggling pension systems, two Republican lawmakers say they are introducing a bill to make the agencies more transparent.

State Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville and Sen. Joe Bowen of Owensboro want to give four non-voting seats on the KRS board of trustees to members of the General Assembly and to require KRS contracts to undergo legislative review. Continue...

November 1, 2015 11:45 PM

A coalition of public watchdog groups, civil rights advocates and Massachusetts newspaper publishers is calling for quick action on legislation aimed at overhauling a state public records law they say hasn't been updated in more than 40 years.

Momentum for a public records bill that appeared headed for a vote in the Legislature has slowed. At the end of September, House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he expected the Massachusetts House to vote on the measure within a week or two.

As yet, no vote has been scheduled. Continue...


November 1, 2015 11:20 PM

The Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill last week that would dramatically reduce voters' ability to know which corporations, unions and wealthy individuals are funding state campaigns. The Senate is expected to vote on a companion bill (SB 292) shortly.

Supporters of the measure say these changes are required by recent court decisions. Don't believe it. If passed, SB 292 would radically change the law, not comply with it. Continue...


November 1, 2015 11:12 PM

Perhaps no other process of government that has such a significant impact on people’s lives is as opaque and less understood as establishing the rules for land use.

To systematically evaluate how land use decisions get made and how they might impact people and communities, more transparency and data is needed around the local zoning process. Continue...


October 30, 2015 4:49 PM

The director of the state Office of Open Records cannot be removed by the governor without cause, Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled this week in a decision that will keep in place the executive director fired early this year by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The Supreme Court ruled 3-1 that Wolf overstepped his authority when he dismissed Erik Arneson shortly after taking office in January. Continue...

October 30, 2015 4:43 PM

Information revealing when, where and how much hazardous material is shipped by rail through Maine became sealed from public view under state law earlier this month, in a move first responders hope will allow them greater access to information about dangerous materials passing through the state.

The new exemption to Maine’s Freedom of Access Act — the only new exemption to become law during the last legislative session — in June cleared a veto from Gov. Paul LePage, who wrote he believed any information in the hands of first responders should be public. Continue...

October 30, 2015 2:11 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado has launched Mobile Justice Colorado, a new police accountability tool that empowers Coloradans to witness and record police interactions and to submit cell phone videos of civil rights abuses directly to the ACLU of Colorado, so they cannot be deleted or destroyed.

Mobile Justice CO is available in English and Spanish for use on Android and iOS phones and can be downloaded for free through Apple’s App Store or Google Play. The app, which was officially launched this morning at an event in front of the Denver Police Headquarters, enables users to record, witness, and report interactions with law enforcement, and also includes a built-in “Know Your Rights” guide. Continue...


October 30, 2015 12:40 PM

After an investigative report by The Washington Post revealed several super PACs acting in support of his campaign, Donald Trump acted swiftly, condemning the activities of the super PACs and ordering his attorneys to send cease and desist letters to several groups.

This action, as well as the placement of television ads by a dark money group supporting Marco Rubio, has triggered a debate within the Republican party about the impact of money in the election, with both Trump and fellow GOP hopeful Jeb Bush taking swings at each other about the influence of dark money in the election. Continue...


October 30, 2015 12:27 PM

On August 31, the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) submitted a formal Petition for Rulemaking to the Local Finance Board (LFB) within the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). (The petition and NJFOG’s cover letter can also be found on the DCA’s website.)

NJFOG's petition seeks changes in the rules that govern how the LFB processes citizen complaints against county and local officials that allege violations of the Local Government Ethics Law. NJFOG's petition seeks three categories of rule amendments. Continue...


October 29, 2015 8:05 AM

Transparency. Greater trust. A policy development process that’s rooted in clear, public-facing evidence.

These are some of the goals that governments hope to achieve through the implementation of an open data program. These same goals — achieving greater community trust and developing better evidence-based policy — are often strongly desired by agencies which are part of the criminal justice system as well.

As a result, state and local criminal justice agencies are across the country are increasing their implementation of open data as a way to achieve improvements in these critical areas. Continue...


October 29, 2015 8:00 AM

Florida lawmakers are calling for more transparency at state colleges and universities funded with donations.

Florida law allows public schools to keep secret the way they spend private money, one reason the University of Central Florida and coach George O'Leary faced criticism for not releasing terms of his contract. They didn't have to because O'Leary was paid with private money.

Some lawmakers want to change the way the game is played. Continue...


October 29, 2015 7:43 AM

As Denver police get ready to introduce its body camera program next month, the department must do a better job of defining public access to the video.

The department's seven-page draft policy that covers everything from when cameras must be turned on to how the video shall be uploaded doesn't mention anything about public access. Yet these matters of privacy and transparency as it relates to body cam video are cropping up everywhere in the country. Continue...

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