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

May 18, 2016 11:04 AM

Three legislative bills filed Tuesday would place additional requirements on lobbyists and political committees, improve transparency in government and mandate greater disclosure, its Democratic sponsors said.

One proposal, from Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, would require lobbyists to state whether they are being paid for their work supporting or opposing bills. Lobbyists who are compensated would have to pay a “fee” to the state. Anyone failing to do so would be barred from acting as a lobbyist until the fee is paid.  Continue...


May 18, 2016 10:04 AM

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was filed today in the 5th Judicial Circuit Court, Edgar County, against the Office of the Auditor General.  Also named in the suit is Frank Mautino, the current Auditor General.

According to the complaint, Mautino failed to comply with certain requirements of the FOI Act to include production or certain records in his possession.  The complaint was filed by Kirk Allen, pro se.  Allen is the Co-Founder of the Edgar County Watchdogs.  Allen prevailed in his pro se FOIA case against past Health and Family Services Director Julie Hamos who was ordered to turn over certain records and pay Allen’s cost.  Continue...


May 17, 2016 1:01 PM

Records show that UGA processed no open records requests regarding recruiting from opposing schools over the last six months. There were just two requests overall regarding potential recruits, and both were made by media.

That information runs contrary to what a state legislator said was the reasoning behind sponsoring recent legislation that now will give UGA 90 days to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.  Continue...


May 17, 2016 12:51 PM

A legislative proposal to create a transparency website for fiscal matters that would give the “average constituent” the tool to root out “inefficiencies” and “waste” in state government unanimously sailed through the House Appropriations Committee Monday.

Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, said he authored House Bill 298 to allow people to track how their tax dollars are spent.  The measure now goes to the full House for debate.  Continue...


May 17, 2016 12:45 PM

The Mackinac Center and Sierra Club often hold different positions on policy, but have come together to call for a more transparent and accountable government. The Detroit Free Press recently published an op-ed written by David Holtz, chairman of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, and Michael Reitz, executive vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

In the piece, the authors discuss a package of bills moving through the Michigan Legislature that would make state government more accountable to the people and remove hurdles that have hindered journalists and activists from gaining a complete picture of what created the Flint water crisis. House Bills 5477 and 5478, introduced by Reps. Ed McBroom and Jeremy Moss, respectively, would make the governor subject to the Freedom of Information Act.  Continue...


May 17, 2016 12:39 PM

Business plans and other confidential information shouldn't be submitted to the NIH in a conflict-of-interest report because it could be made available to the public, the agency's grants compliance director advised May 12.

Any information provided to the National Institutes of Health is subject to the Freedom of Information Act, which is why Diane Dean of the agency's grants program recommended not submitting any confidential information to the agency. It's also why the NIH's financial conflicts of interest policy says research institutions should submit only key elements of a plan to manage conflicts of interest—such as the role and duties of the investigator and any safeguards to ensure objectivity in the research—but not the plan itself.  Continue...


May 17, 2016 10:48 AM

Four years ago, a Wagener woman requesting copies of financial records and other records from the Town of Swansea was billed nearly $10,000 for the documents.

Aiken County taxpayers seeking records about the school district’s $236 million bond referendum and other data in 2010 didn’t receive an answer until well past the November election.  Continue...


May 16, 2016 10:19 AM

Colorado lawmakers in 2016 rejected an opportunity to bring the state’s open-records law into the 21st century.

They also decided that wage-law violations should remain “trade secrets” and that internal affairs files on judicial branch employees should remain confidential, which isn’t the case for other state government workers.  Continue...


May 16, 2016 10:08 AM

On the first day of his presidency, Barack Obama issued a memorandum reviving the Freedom of Information Act. Calling for “a new era of open government,” the President directed federal agencies to adopt “a presumption of disclosure.”

Now, nearing the end of Obama’s second term and the 50th anniversary of FOIA, Congress may be on the verge of reforming the law designed to keep citizens in the know about their government.  Continue...


May 16, 2016 9:06 AM

An effort to expand Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act could move forward this week in the state legislature. 

The 40-year-old law covers local governments and state departments, but not the governor’s office or the Legislature.  Continue...


May 16, 2016 8:57 AM

The dodgy scientists who wrote to President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding that RICO laws be used to prosecute climate skeptics just got even more badly screwed.

Already one of them — George Mason University professor Jagadish Shukla — is under Congressional investigation for what has been described as the “largest science scandal in US history.”  Continue...


May 16, 2016 8:51 AM

The Missouri Legislature this session voted to curtail public access to some public records that lawmakers have sought to seal for years.

Some police body camera footage, agricultural data and criminal records would become closed records under legislation sitting on Gov. Jay Nixon's desk. The Legislature also considered sealing police records on sexual assault and suicides, as well as the identity of lottery winners, but did not act.  Continue...


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