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

June 16, 2016 1:54 PM

VT Public Records – Cornerstone of Government Transparency

Records management is not exactly an exciting topic, but when a particular record is the focus of a request or controversy, it becomes critically important in that moment. Those records are owned by the State of Vermont and are incredibly valuable for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are accountability and preserving confidence in state government. Moments like these are opportunities to talk about the importance of records and information management and what it means for Vermonters. Continue...


June 16, 2016 1:43 PM

Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. But this year, it’s extra special. This July 4th marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom of Information Act, also known as FOIA. The bedrock transparency law essentially allows citizens to know what their government is up to. This year, we will have even more reason to celebrate.

Earlier this week, Congress sent the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 to the president’s desk to sign into law. The legislation marks an important step forward toward increasing access to government information. Continue...


June 16, 2016 1:12 PM

A bill introduced in the state Senate would open board committee meetings at the University of Delaware and Delaware State University to the public.

Two UD professors offered support for the bill, SB 278, in a Senate Education Committee meeting Wednesday, saying their university's leadership decisions are often made in closed-door meetings of Board of Trustees committees before the full board ratifies them in its open meetings. Continue...


June 13, 2016 2:22 PM

Government watchdogs are celebrating this month the 40th anniversary of the Kentucky Open Records Act. It has withstood the test of time as an indispensable tool for a variety of individuals and interest groups seeking to hold public officials accountable.

The open records law changed everything when it went into effect in June 1976 in the midst of the  general environment of distrust in government that began a decade earlier. Before it was signed into law by Gov. Julian Carroll, local governments could easily hide their spending, state agencies could bury their mistakes, elected and appointed officials could more easily abuse their powers. Continue...


June 13, 2016 1:49 PM

Five years ago, when a Bangor area man wanted copies of videos from his daughter's school bus so he could expose bullying, the state told him the recordings were off-limits to the public.

That might not be the case anymore. Continue...


June 13, 2016 1:39 PM

The city of Topeka has been selected to join a national initiative that will enhance its distribution and use of data.

Operated by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the What Works Cities initiative has helped 39 cities in 25 states analyze their data and make it more readily available for citizens’ consumption. Continue...


June 13, 2016 1:29 PM

The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government (NJFOG) secured a court consent order on May 31 against the Little Egg Harbor Fire District #3 that requires the Board of Fire Commissioners to follow provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).

NJFOG filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lawsuit against the Fire District in February after the District failed to respond to an OPRA request for closed session meeting minutes and resolutions authorizing the closed sessions.  Continue...


June 10, 2016 12:19 PM

You might call it a recipe for transparency.

Want to know when the president signs a bill into law? When congress votes on a bill? When a new legislator is representing you? Since 2014, The Sunlight Foundation has been connecting its massive trove of government data to IFTTT, the popular web service that connects things on the internet to other things. Continue...


June 10, 2016 12:10 PM

The Maine court system reversed itself on sealing some court records after pressure from media groups, officials said Wednesday.

Dismissed criminal cases that had been ordered sealed will remain public records as they have in the past, according to a spokeswoman for the Maine court system. Continue...


June 10, 2016 9:37 AM

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry ordered the State Department to investigate the State Department’s intentional deletion of a 2013 briefing where its spokesperson admitted that the Obama Administration misled the American people about the Iran nuclear deal.

This comes as the ACLJ expects a response later this week to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on this matter (something the State Department is legally required to comply with). Continue...


June 10, 2016 9:31 AM

The D.C. high court ruled June 9 that an obscure law doesn’t work as an almost total exemption for the D.C. Council from the broad public access requirements of the District’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), extended by the Council to cover itself in 2000.

The law, known as the Legislative Privilege Act, is copied from similar language in the United States Constitution known as the "speech and debate clause" (Article I, Sec. 6) that protects Members of Congress and staff from lawsuits about what they say in their legislative function. Continue...


June 8, 2016 1:06 PM

A plan to make police body camera footage more accessible cleared a House committee Tuesday afternoon, but some legislators and open-government groups say the bill doesn’t go far enough.

More law enforcement agencies in North Carolina are purchasing body cams. The departments are under pressure to make police activity more transparent in the wake of high-profile shootings involving officers. The legislature included $2.5 million in its budget for the current fiscal year to offer body-cam grants of up to $100,000 each to law enforcement agencies. Continue...


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