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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June 30, 2015 1:13 PM

As the executive branch of the United States government quietly works on creating an official open source policy, the legislative branch is also moving into the 21st century: Open source software is now officially permitted in the U.S. House of Representatives. That means software developed in the People's House with taxpayer funds will eventually be available to the people. According to the nonpartisan OpenGov Foundation, there will soon be an Open Source Caucus in Congress.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, "open source" means the code behind the software can be viewed, accessed or modified by anyone. Four years ago, House.gov moved to Drupal, an open source content management system, but this is a much more significant shift.  Continue>>>

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June 30, 2015 1:04 PM

NORFOLK, Va., June 29, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PRA Government Services, a division of PRA Group (Nasdaq:PRAA), has launched EZTransparency™, a user-friendly, interactive tool to help council members, municipal staff and the public quickly visualize and understand complex city and county budgets.

A graphic accompanying this release is available at http://media.globenewswire.com/cache/8909/file/35235.pdf  Continue>>>

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June 30, 2015 12:49 PM

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell continued to castigate Hillary Clinton’s State Department email practices Tuesday, calling her decision “an absolutely unacceptable choice from the start.” (RELATED: MSNBC’s O’Donnell Blasts Hillary: ‘Convenience Is Not A Choice You Have In Government’)

Appearing on “Morning Joe,” O’Donnell told host Joe Scarborough that while the contents of the e-mails coming out seem to be “reasonable,” the whole issue goes back to her attempt to sidestep the Freedom Of Information Act.  Continue>>>

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June 30, 2015 12:43 PM

GOODRICH, MI – A Goodrich family is fuming over a huge  charge the school district proposes for an electronic records search on their son.  

Sherry Smith filed a Freedom of Information Act request in late May, looking for emails sent between April 2014 to the present regarding her son, or his initials, "but not limited to emails between Goodrich Area Schools employees, Genesee Intermediate School District employees, Michigan Department of Education employees, etc."  Continue>>>

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June 29, 2015 10:48 AM

The Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information had reason to celebrate at its annual meeting this month. It is the 60th anniversary of the group’s founding by Connecticut journalists seeking to protect the public’s right to know, a right not always appreciated or understood by the public, or by some public servants at every level of government who prefer to perform many of their functions away from the prying eyes of the taxpayer.

Also this year the group campaigned successfully to restore access to police arrest records lost in a state Supreme Court decision. Recognizing police could use the decision to keep the public in the dark about the circumstances surrounding arrests, the court itself recommended that the legislature explore remedial action.  Continue>>>

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June 29, 2015 10:40 AM

On the eve of the final vote on the 2016 Budget Support Act, the D.C. Open Government Coalition, the D.C. Professional Chapter of SPJ, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Office of Open Government, the ACLU of the National Capital Area and the D.C. Police Union jointly chastized Mayor Muriel E. Bowser for attempting to coerce the D.C. Council to prevent the public from gaining access to police body-worn camera videos.

  Mayor Muriel Bowser, in April, proposed outfitting every patrol officer with a body-worn camera to record interactions with the public. She announced the expansion at her State of the District address, claiming “[a]ccountability is embedded, and will be embedded in everything this administration does.” Continue>>>

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June 29, 2015 10:35 AM

After last year's debacle involving the Hartford-based Jumoke Academy charter school operation, many legislators arrived at the Capitol this year on a mission to improve the control and regulation of charter schools. A new law, passed with overwhelming support in the General Assembly but not yet signed by the governor, is designed to make charter schools and the charter management organizations that oversee them more accountable and transparent.

No one seems to dispute that the state's new charter accountability provisions — including anti-nepotism rules, background checks, and other measures — are a positive step forward when it comes to making the publicly-funded but independently-run schools more accountable.  Continue>>>

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June 26, 2015 1:29 PM

In a 6-3 opinion with profound reach on the state's open government laws, the Texas Supreme Court on Friday decided that Greater Houston Partnership doesn't have to open its check registers, even though it receives funds from the city of Houston.

The case stemmed from a 2007 request by Jim Jenkins of Montgomery County, who wanted to see how GHP spends the city's money. GHP, the region's major economic development group, argued that it wasn't a governmental body for the purposes of the Texas Public Information Act, and eventually sued to block disclosure of its finances.  Continue>>>

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June 26, 2015 9:46 AM

BRIDGEPORT — If elected City Council members want information from Mayor Bill Finch’s administration, they can always do what John and Jane Q Public does — file a Freedom of Information request and get in line.

That can mean waiting weeks and sometimes months for the data.

That was one of the recommendations City Attorney Mark Anastasi made in a four-page response to renewed efforts by Councilman Enrique Torres, R-130, to try and force agency heads to be more responsive to individual council member requests.  Continue>>>

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June 25, 2015 12:40 PM

A judge in Atlantic County has just held that public agencies cannot sue records requestors for declarations that the records sought are not subject to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). The court affirmed that only the requestor can sue under OPRA and awarded attorney’s fees to the defendant-requestor!

Click HERE to see the opinion and order in the case, Township of Hamilton v. Scheeler et al.  Continue>>>

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June 25, 2015 10:13 AM

A top official at a controversial U.S. export finance agency deleted text messages sent within days of the 2014 midterm elections after a watchdog group filed an open records request for the messages, the agency admitted recently.

The watchdog group, Cause of Action, said the deletion amounts to “unlawful destruction of federal records” in a legal complaint filed on Wednesday.  Continue>>>

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June 25, 2015 9:14 AM

Tim Draper wants to make California county governments more transparent — and the venture capitalist said Wednesday that he will spend up to $500,000 to make it happen.

Draper’s nonprofit, Innovate Your State, will provide a year’s subscription to the first California counties that subscribe to OpenGov, a Redwood City startup that creates visualizations of financial data and provides analysis software for local governments. A breakdown of each department’s budget shows up on OpenGov, making it easier for the public to look in on financial priorities. Draper estimates that a year of OpenGov will cost between $10,000 and $50,000, depending on the size of the county.  Continue>>>

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