NFOIC's blog

Scoppe: The SC Supreme Court and the Freedom of Information Act

July 29, 2014 6:47 AM

The day after the state Supreme Court issued its second ruling in a month scaling back what our government has to do in public, I got a note from someone close to the chief justice that said, “It seems pretty clear the Court in this case and Lambries is telling the Legislature to revise the FOIA.”

That same day, the head of the S.C. Press Association foreshadowed what lots of critics would say when he complained that the court once again had ruled against openness and “punted important issues back to the Legislature for change.” Read more »



Op-Ed: Delay and deny: Obama’s two-face on Freedom of Information

July 29, 2014 6:46 AM

Upon entering office in January of 2009, President Obama promised us an era of openness and transparency in the federal government.

He set a policy in place mandating that federal records be released when requested by the public, on the premise that "sun-light is said to be the best of disinfectants." He instructed the executive departments and agencies to operate with a presumption towards disclosure when handling Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. On this point he stated as follows: Read more »



Our view: Freedom of information

July 29, 2014 6:45 AM

The disappearance of rights is seldom an immediate process. There are too many people willing to stand up and fight against such an undermining of power. The danger is when it comes as a trickle or a tweak. That’s what slowly erodes the soul of transparency.

Gov. Pat Quinn recognized the steep downward slope on which such a tweak would have perched Illinois’ open records law last week when he vetoed a legislative plan to give municipalities more leeway in answering some requests for information. Let’s hope lawmakers leave it alone. Read more »



Hybrid records management can enable open government

July 29, 2014 6:43 AM

In his first day in office, President Obama signed the memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, calling for a new era of open and accountable government.

“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.” — President Obama, Jan. 21, 2009 Read more »



NM FOG names open government award winners

July 29, 2014 6:42 AM

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government announced the winners of its annual awards dedicated to open government. The group announced three recipients of the Dixon First Amendment Award, one lawyer, one journalist and one in government.

Charles “Kip” Purcell will be given the award for lawyers, Colleen Heild of the Albuquerque Journal will be given the award for journalists and State Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, for members of government. Read more »



Government Websites in 5 Cities and Counties Win Vision Internet “What’s Next” Awards for Online Innovation

July 29, 2014 6:41 AM

Vision Internet, innovators in online government, today announced the winners of its inaugural “What’s Next” Awards competition, which recognizes local government websites for excellence in five categories: transparency, citizen engagement, online innovation, green gov and visual impact. Read more »



My mystifying journey into the world of FOIA (part 2)

July 29, 2014 6:39 AM

Last week, I invited readers along on my journey through the Freedom of Information Act via one record request filed May 20. I asked the Department of the Army for records of a government contractor who had been blacklisted in April for some kind of violation. The story so far: Aside from a letter acknowledging my request, I have received zip. Read more »



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 »



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