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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July 23, 2015 12:39 PM

Iowa now allows private businesses to cloak their efforts to win state contracts in secrecy, prohibiting taxpayers from reviewing competitive bid details that for decades have been made public.

Specifically, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services allows bidders to submit two versions of their work or sale proposals: one for state executives that is unredacted, and another that’s a “public” file where each private company determines what information it wants the public to see.  Continue>>>

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July 23, 2015 12:10 PM

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has launched an interactive, online map charting the policies of more than 100 police departments and laws in nearly every state regarding public access to police body camera videos.

"In the past year, we've seen dramatic growth in the number of police departments implementing bodycam programs. Unfortunately, not all police departments and lawmakers appreciate the importance of ensuring public access to bodycam video and other public records that are generated by those programs," said Reporters Committee Litigation Director Katie Townsend.  Continue>>>

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July 23, 2015 10:03 AM

A Sangamon County judge has rejected a plea from a Massachusetts company that claims that requests for the company’s contracts with more than a dozen Illinois school districts are harming business and damaging the company’s reputation.

Lawyers for Ameresco had argued that requests under the state Freedom of Information Act for contracts should be barred, even though the contracts had been discussed and approved by school boards during public meetings. Ameresco has contracts with scores of public agencies across the United States that have paid the company to perform work aimed at reducing energy costs.  Continue>>>

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July 23, 2015 9:49 AM

The CIA has been fighting to keep POW/MIA records out of Roger Hall's hands for over a decade. With that FOIA battle finally over, the CIA is now fighting to keep its money out of Roger Hall's hands. Judge Royce Lambert's order sounds a little exasperated with this vexatious defendant. 

First, the CIA admits Hall (and Studies Solutions Results) have mostly won. But it then goes on to claim it shouldn't be required to follow this provision of the Freedom of Information Act -- that "substantially prevailing" plaintiffs are entitled to legal fees.  Continue>>>

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July 22, 2015 3:47 PM

The Justice Department has no current position on whether first requesters should get a priority look at the documents released before they are made available to the public under a planned “release to one, release to all” policy, according to Melanie Ann Pustay, Director of the Office of Information Policy at the Justice Department.

The timing issue popped up quickly as a hot button topic for scoop-jealous journalists after Justice announced its pilot program to assess the value and costs of more online disclosure of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. (See previous FreedomInfo.org article.) The timing of such online releases will be examined as part of the pilot program being conducted at seven agencies, Pustay said in written answers to questions submitted by FreedomInfo.org.  Continue>>>

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July 22, 2015 2:23 PM

New Hampshire's creation of a price transparency website for health care services suggests publishing payment rates can affect negotiations between insurers and providers, Modern Healthcare reports.

New Hampshire's HealthCost website uses information from the state's all-payer claims database -- the Comprehensive Health Care Information System -- to provide consumers with estimates of insurer and out-of-pocket costs for health care services.  Continue>>>

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July 22, 2015 9:57 AM

The state attorney general will be holding a summit next week for those who are interested in learning about transparency and accountability in government.

The summit, scheduled for July 31 from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Roger Williams University School of Law, will be free and open to the public. Continue>>>

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July 21, 2015 9:49 AM

A ruling from the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records has thrown a new monkey wrench into the ongoing dispute over Right to Know requests in Centre County.

In May, Centre County Public Defender David Crowley submitted a RTK request seeking phone records of contact between District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller and Judge Bradley Lunsford – but that request was denied.  Continue>>>

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July 21, 2015 9:29 AM

The state auditor’s office is conducting an audit of the state legislature.

Democrat Nicole Galloway said her office’s reviews of the Republican-controlled House and Senate are regularly scheduled audits, the findings of the last ones having been released in 2013 under then-auditor Tom Schweich (R).  Continue>>>

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July 21, 2015 8:55 AM

Four powerful lawmakers are pressing the Treasury Department to explain why it has not yet ensured that some of the tools used by the Recovery Operations Center will live on after the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board ceases operations this fall.

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, respectively, and Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, respectively,  wrote to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew on July 16 asking for the department’s plans to incorporate the center’s data analytics tools into the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act).  Continue>>>

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July 21, 2015 8:48 AM

LOS ANGELES — When the reporter Jason Leopold gets ready to take on the United States government, he psychs himself up by listening to the heavy metal bands Slayer and Pantera.

Mr. Leopold describes himself as “a pretty rageful guy.” He argued recently with staff members at his son’s preschool because he objected to their references to “Indians” and they objected to his wearing family-unfriendly punk rock T-shirts to school meetings.  Continue>>>

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July 21, 2015 8:38 AM

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officials will once again ascend Capitol Hill to answer lawmakers’ questions about the transit system’s safety and management.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on July 21 to follow-up on questions raised after the deadly incident at the L’Enfant Metro stop in January, where one woman died and dozens were hospitalized after being trapped in a smoke-filled train.  Continue>>>

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