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

January 12, 2016 10:17 AM

Florida Sunshine Laws, which dictate transparency in government, could be significantly threatened — all with the change of a single word.

As reported by Noah Pransky of WTSP, a new bill by Sarasota Republican State Rep. Greg Steube is generating concern among open government advocates, who see it as “legislators trying to further erode citizens’ only avenue” of accessing public records.  Continue...


January 11, 2016 3:32 PM

Remember one year ago when then-Attorney General Eric Holder supposedly tightened restrictions on the Justice Department so it could not easily conduct surveillance on journalists’ emails and phone calls? Well it turns out the Justice Department inserted a large loophole in its internal rules that allows the FBI to completely circumvent those restrictions and spy on journalists in secrecy—and with absolutely no court oversight—using National Security Letters.

And what, exactly, are the Justice Department’s rules for when they can target a journalist with a National Security Letter (NSL)? Well, according the government, that’s classified.  Continue...


January 11, 2016 11:32 AM

DENVER - Colorado lawmakers will consider at least four measures to expand public access to information during the legislature's 2016 session, which convenes Wednesday.

Those measures include database records; nonprofit records; wage theft transparency and judicial branch records.  Continue...


January 11, 2016 11:13 AM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Open-government advocates are criticizing Governor Raimondo's economic incentives process as she prepares to award at least $56 million in subsidies to companies she hopes will create jobs, expand in Rhode Island or move here.

The first-term governor and her aides have spent six months drafting regulations and applications, determining how to review and approve the tax and other incentives to develop new businesses.  Continue...


January 11, 2016 11:06 AM

There will be a training series called “Serving on Public Boards” that will be held on Jan. 19 and Jan. 21 (one program, 2 nights) from 6 to 9 p.m. in five locations.

Locations include: Advanced Technology Center Room 167 in Mexico (2900 Doreli Lane), Putnam County High School, Brookfield Area Career Center, Grand River Technical School in Chillicothe and Scotland County High School.  Continue...


January 11, 2016 10:49 AM

The state Public Records Board is expected Monday to revisit a change it made in August on which state records need to be archived as open records. The board needs to reverse that change and ensure that all records relevant to the public's business — including texts, Facebook messages and other electronic communications — are archived and available to the public.

Beyond that, as Journal Sentinel editor George Stanley said in an open letter to board Chairman Matthew Blessing on Thursday, the board should "please go further than merely rescinding your redefinition of electronic records, now that you have seen how it will be used. Please also make a public commitment that the board you lead will do everything it can in the future to protect and promote citizen access to their government's records."  Continue...


January 11, 2016 10:43 AM

WASHINGTON — Fifty years after Congress passed a law opening most government records to public scrutiny, the House is expected Tuesday to take up the most important open records overhaul since 2007. Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats are expected to support the legislation.

Republicans in the House, frustrated by what they call the State Department’s incomplete and slow response to inquiries about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, have complained that the open records process “is broken” and that the Obama administration has ignored the law. Democrats, while defending the administration, agree that the records law needs strengthening.  Continue...


January 8, 2016 11:18 AM

BURLEY • The Idaho Attorney General’s Office on Thursday launched an investigation into a joint law enforcement committee in Cassia County over allegations it violated state open-government laws. A Cassia County district judge ordered two special state prosecutors to be appointed in the case.

The law enforcement committee was a panel of citizens appointed by the city and county to study the police services contract after negotiations between the two government entities broke down. The committee also developed a cost model for the controversial contract between Burley and the county.  Continue...


January 8, 2016 11:15 AM

ALBUQUERQUE - The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government now has on its website databases of state and county public records custodians.

For each county or state agency, the databases generally include the name of the public records custodian, the address for Inspection of Public Records requests, the phone number and email of the custodian, as well as the cost for obtaining copies of records. The databases can be downloaded at  Continue...


January 8, 2016 11:10 AM

The improving accessibility of open data is providing insights into the Colorado River basin’s 16-year drought, thanks to a recently launched, interactive digital tool from the U.S. Interior Department.

The “Drought in the Colorado River Basin” portal details the state of the watershed that supplies 1 in 10 Americans and 5.5 million acres of land with water, despite reservoirs at about 50 percent capacity.  Continue...

January 8, 2016 11:06 AM

It’s early January, when New Year’s resolutions seem attainable, extra pounds from the holidays losable, and sound policy from new state legislative sessions at least possible.  By now, 14 state capitals have welcomed their lawmakers back to town, and before the month is out, another 23 sessions will begin.

Over the next few weeks, legislators from Albany to Anchorage will introduce thousands of bills covering all sorts of topics. And in a handful of states, including New York, South Carolina and New Mexico, there’s a particular focus on ethics and open government — subjects covered in depth by the State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven evaluation and ranking of state government transparency and accountability published in November by the Center and Global Integrity.  Continue...

January 8, 2016 11:01 AM

WASHINGTON—The State Department’s internal watchdog found that the department gave “inaccurate and incomplete” answers to groups seeking access to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s records.

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, in a report released Thursday, faulted the department for repeatedly falling short of its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act, the law that allows public access to government records.  Continue...

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