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

October 29, 2015 7:37 AM

The South Carolina Attorney General’s office has confirmed that public notices must be published in a printed newspaper of general circulation and not on an Internet news site.

The opinion written by Assistant Attorney General Anne Marie Crosswell said “online newspapers” that exist solely on the Internet with no print circulation would not be considered a newspaper of general circulation as the term is used within statutes and regulations imposing legal notice requirements for various purposes. Continue...

October 29, 2015 7:25 AM

The public will get its first look Thursday at a working version of, which tries to make it simpler to figure out who is funding elections and how politicians are spending donors’ money.

Among the many changes: The new version can be viewed on any size screen, allowing users to view campaign-finance data on their mobile phones and tablets. Continue...


October 27, 2015 11:32 PM

Follow the money. That's one of the key lessons in politics, right?

Follow the money, and you'll find answers. Follow the money, and you'll see who's influencing whom. Follow the money, and you'll be able to connect special interest donors to the legislators whose votes can benefit them.

But it might be about to get tougher — a lot tougher — to follow the money in Wisconsin politics. Continue...

October 27, 2015 11:26 PM

Nestled firmly in a bill passed last week by the Pennsylvania Senate is a long list of reporting requirements that, if passed by the House and signed by the governor, would force the University of Pittsburgh and the three other state-related universities to disclose data ranging from minutes of meetings to ratios of course credits awarded to various types of students.

“One of the concerns is the additional stress in terms of cost of collecting the information,” Pitt spokesman Ken Service said. “We divulge a great deal of information already voluntarily and also in compliance with current state regulation.” Continue...

October 27, 2015 10:57 PM

Nowhere in the United States is there an open source voting system. While Los Angeles and Travis County, Texas, are working on open source voting systems, San Francisco could emerge as a leader.

But only if there is the political will and the funding.

Open source voting systems offer increased transparency by using nonproprietary software open to the public to review the source code, which counts the ballots and issues election results. Supporters say open source voting is needed to safeguard against election tampering. Continue...


October 27, 2015 10:47 PM

In the rush to enact open data policies and dive into innovation projects, cities are seriously considering the value of chief data officers — and officials in Long Beach, Calif., are no different. But the city is taking a different approach: crowdsourcing.

The chief data officer role is an emerging one, encapsulated in a trichotomy of technical expertise, internal strategizing and community engagement. For cities, chief data officers often oversee the nuances in analytics projects and open data policies, coordinate department data initiatives, and vet potential tech partnerships in the private sector. For citizens, the role is most visible in their advocacy for civic apps and volunteer expertise. Continue...


October 27, 2015 10:21 PM

A pending cybersecurity bill would weaken government transparency, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) warned on Monday.

A day ahead of an expected final vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) — which would encourage companies to share more cyber threat data with the government — Leahy made a push for his amendment, which would strip the bill of what he believes are detrimental exemptions to public transparency laws.

The senate approved the bill Tuesday. Continue...


October 26, 2015 2:35 PM

At its August meeting, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission was presented by staff with the usual, publicly available monthly report chronicling intoxicated patrons, fights, thefts and other incidents at the state's five casinos.

A month later, the compliance report presented to the commissioners offered significantly less detail. Gone was any narrative, and there were no figures for — or even mention of — casino fights or intoxicated customers. Continue...


October 26, 2015 2:30 PM

Our duly elected representatives in the state legislature are busily selling off both Wisconsin’s land and its reputation for honest and open government. Meanwhile, we are watching football and hunting ducks and texting our friends; we won’t notice until it is too late that some of the things we value most about Wisconsin are gone forever. Continue...

October 26, 2015 2:27 PM

Since first setting up an open data portal in 2009, anyone can get a look at Alabama’s government spending, down to state employee salaries. Now, state Chief Information Officer Brunson White said he’s working to revamp the data supporting that system.

“One of the things that we’ve been working on is making sure the data that system accesses is the best data possible and is the most complete data available,” White told StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference earlier this month. “That’s a pretty big lift.” Continue...

October 26, 2015 2:22 PM

There are a lot of problems with the latest attempt to update Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law, which the Senate unanimously passed on Wednesday. Fortunately, the House has a chance to fix the defects and make the open-records law stronger.

The 7-year-old law, which for the first time said that, when in doubt, state agency records are to be open to the public, was a big step forward for Pennsylvania. However, it shortchanged taxpayers by giving widespread exemption to the state’s three biggest university systems — Penn State, Pitt and Temple. Continue...

October 26, 2015 1:38 PM

Dianna Duran still doesn't get it.

Duran was New Mexico's Secretary of State until her abrupt resignation Thursday night. She has been under fire since August when state Attorney General Hector Balderas filed charges against her that included embezzlement and falsifying campaign finance reports.

The sad irony is that Duran's office is responsible for enforcing the state's campaign finance reporting law. Continue...

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