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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August 4, 2015 2:10 PM

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge dismissed most, but not all, of the National Security Agency's requests to dismiss a reporter's FOIA request on federal surveillance of judges.

Jason Leopold, formerly with Al-Jazeera America and now with Vice News, filed two FOIA requests for NSA and FBI "surveillance of federal and state judges."  Continue>>>

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August 4, 2015 2:01 PM

Public affairs experts say easy and constant access by citizens to important government information, referred to as government transparency, is vital for good governance as well as the perception by citizens that the government is trustworthy. However, many local governments suffer from a lack of transparency.

Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that county governments in densely populated urban areas tend to be more transparent on their official websites if their citizens have good Internet access. Continue>>>

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August 4, 2015 1:42 PM

Outside the mayor’s conference room, the line of D.C. cabinet secretaries and agency directors stretched down the hall. Each studied notes and prepared excuses, like schoolchildren awaiting a turn before the principal.

Inside, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) had begun the two-hour inquisition. At issue, however, was something more serious than a schoolyard dispute: more than $1.3 billion in mishandled taxpayer contracts.  Continue>>>

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August 3, 2015 12:22 PM

Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, took issue on Friday with the “matters before the public” rules approved by the Board of Supervisors.

“This is the most far-reaching policy that I’ve seen,” she said of the board’s July 28 decision. “I’ve seen some of these individual provisions in many policies across the state, but never put together in one place. The total effect is startling.”  Continue>>>

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August 3, 2015 11:33 AM

Kelly Young was driving down Route 28 when a sedan traveling in the other direction rear ended another car and veered into Young's lane, hitting his car head on, police say.

Young, 56, a father of two and son of a former state lawmaker, died from his injuries.  Continue>>>

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August 3, 2015 11:26 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Medicaid program would benefit from increased transparency, better beneficiary access to specialty and dental care, and automatic assistance from the federal government during economic downturns, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"The size, growth, and diversity of the Medicaid program create significant challenges for oversight," the GAO wrote in a 91-page report issued Thursday on the challenges facing the program. "There is an inherent tension between states' efforts to design programs that best meet their local needs and federal efforts to oversee the states' programs.   Continue>>>

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July 31, 2015 9:43 AM

Here is the story of one Afghanistan War disabled veteran who did not back down when VA VocRehab employees unlawfully withheld his VocRehab records from him following a benefits denial.

Disabled veteran Joe Roth first received a denial for VocRehab retraining at the end of last year. When he tried to fight back, poorly trained VA employees unlawfully concluded his records were the VA property and that they could be withheld.  Continue>>>

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July 31, 2015 9:30 AM

This spring, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came under fire when the State Department disclosed her exclusive use of a personal email server during her time as Secretary of State.

This raised major transparency concerns because she used a private account and her email correspondence was not available for production when the State Department received Freedom of Information Act requests. The State Department is now in the process of reviewing and producing the roughly 55,000 pages of email Clinton and her staff determined should be turned over to it – and those may even be incomplete.  Continue>>>

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July 31, 2015 9:15 AM

Today we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department over their unpublished rules for using National Security Letters and so-called informal “exigent letters” to conduct surveillance of journalists.

Last year, after a backlash stemming from the surveillance of Associated Press and Fox News journalists, the Justice Department released new guidelines that supposedly barred the government from issuing subpoenas to journalists unless very high standards were met. The rules were generally a victory for the press. Continue>>>

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July 30, 2015 3:27 PM

Governor Charlie Baker unveiled sweeping new rules Thursday for how the executive branch will handle public records requests. Previously, every agency had its own procedure for handling requests.

The move comes as several state agencies have come under fire for the way they handle requests.  Continue>>>

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July 30, 2015 10:35 AM

The majority of open data portals online today are confined to information from a single city government or political jurisdiction.  For researchers, policymakers, or other data portal users, this can create problems: we know that urban landscapes are complex, interconnected places that do not exist within the bounds of a single government entity.  What if, say, I want to see a map of recent traffic accidents in Manhattan, and understand if weather conditions have an effect?  Or what if I want to see if there’s a connection in Chicago between sanitation complaints and environmental inspections?

Finding the answers to such questions is not an easy one; it would require looking at datasets from the City of New York and NOAA, and the City of Chicago and Cook County, respectively.  Each question requires an awkward compare-and-contrast between data from separate government portals.  What’s a researcher to do?  Continue>>>

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July 30, 2015 10:26 AM

The first day of testimony began on Wednesday in a trial to decide whether the Sumner County Board of Education violated the Tennessee Public Records Act by not responding to a Joelton man’s email request.

Ken Jakes filed a lawsuit in Sumner County Chancery Court in April 2014 challenging the school board’s policy requiring a citizen wanting to inspect a public document to submit the request in person or via U.S. mail rather than email.  Continue>>>

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