NFOIC's blog

Opinion: S.C. Supreme Court allows government to hide public information

July 22, 2014 7:08 AM

If the police shoot a man, saying that he was shooting at them, but the autopsy shows the man had no gunshot residue on his hands and that he was shot in the back, don’t you think the public has a right to know about it?

If it had happened in your community, to someone you know, or within the police or sheriff’s department on which you depend, wouldn’t you want to know? Wouldn’t you want to demand further investigation? Isn’t this information crucial to making sure our government and police are acting properly? Read more »



NJ judge finds state wrongly denied man seeking requests for public records

July 22, 2014 7:07 AM

A New Jersey judge ruled Monday that Gov. Chris Christie's administration must honor an activist's public records requests for requests filed by others.

The decision from Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson finds fault with the state's recent strategy of denying such requests on the grounds that people who ask for government records have a privacy right. A state government lawyer said that people can use government records requests to explore lawsuits or dig up dirt on political opponents — things that Jacobson said need not be confidential. Read more »



A four-minute primer on open government

July 22, 2014 7:05 AM

Maybe the wisest thing state lawmakers did this year was require that Washington officialdom learn some fundamentals about open government.

All elected policymakers and records officers must now get formal training on the state’s Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act within 90 days of taking office. They also have to take a refresher every four years.

Here’s a quick primer from an open-government point of view:

• If a member of the public asks for a public record, turn it over. The public owns it, not your agency. Really. Read more »



Last-minute pension law change skirts transparency

July 22, 2014 7:04 AM

These are the kind of backroom deals that make people angry and distrustful of government.

In the final hours of the legislative session, state lawmakers crafted a pension law change that gives Louisiana's state police superintendent and one other trooper a sizable retirement boost, with no public debate of the implications or the cost. The price tag is estimated to be $300,000. Read more »



Editorial: Improve execution process with greater transparency

July 22, 2014 7:02 AM

Joseph Wood has the right to know about the lethal-injection drugs that will be used if he is executed on Wednesday. He should also know about the training of the execution team and how the execution protocol was developed.

Withholding that information is not simply violating Wood's right to know. It is violating the rights of all of us. Read more »



Washington D.C. launches FOIA portal, transparency initiative

July 22, 2014 7:01 AM

Washington D.C.has launched a new effort to process Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. A new online portal will make it possible for individuals to submit requests and have them processed online. The new portal, powered by “FOIAXpress,” is the District’s first-ever citywide FOIA processing system. Mayor Gray also issued an executive order that mandates that the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) hire a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to assist in the deployment and to help coordinate additional open data programming. Read more »



The Fight for the Freedom of Information: Interview with Jeff Cohen

July 22, 2014 7:00 AM

Interview with Jeff Cohen, director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, and he was the founder of the media watchdog FAIR. He is the co-founder of RootsAction.org. He joins us from Ithaca, New York.

WORONCZUK: So, Jeff, what would you say to those who say that encouraging government employees to blow the whistle outside of official channels is going to disrupt the ability of the government to do this kind of surveillance that it needs to protect American citizens against terrorism? Read more »



Sikhs ask US to reveal official use of slurs

July 18, 2014 9:39 AM

A Sikh group today asked US authorities to reveal their use of ethnic slurs after a document leaked by Edward Snowden showed intelligence agents using an anti-Muslim epithet.

The Sikh Coalition filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act seeking all emails since the September 11, 2001 attacks by employees of the FBI and the National Security Agency that use slurs. Read more »



Thruway Authority (N.Y.) refusing to release records

July 18, 2014 9:38 AM

WIVB News 4 Investigates wants to know how the New York State Thruway Authority is spending some of its toll money. Last December News 4 filed a New York Freedom of Information Law request asking to see the last three years of expenses for the agency’s top executives and the authority’s board of directors.

However, even nearly seven months later, the Thruway Authority has refused to release records that News 4 believes should be public. The records are related to the expenses of the board and executives who run the authority. Read more »



Over 500 grievous injuries or deaths at VA hospitals in 2013

July 18, 2014 9:37 AM

Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country reported more than 500 incidents last year where patients were gravely injured or died as a result of the care they received.

Data obtained by the Washington Free Beacon through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) shows 575 “institutional disclosures of adverse events”—the bureaucratic phrase for reporting a serious mistake—at VA hospitals in fiscal year 2013. Read more »



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