NFOIC's blog

DHS report makes recommendations for greater open source software use in government

October 30, 2014 4:07 PM

A report commissioned by the Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology Directorate says barriers to using and developing open source software must be addressed as IT budgets across government continue to tighten.

Security and the perceptions of security are just as problematic as "non-security" challenges to open source software, or OSS, says the report's authors ñ David Wheeler, a research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses, and Tom Dunn, senior research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. Read more »



New hospice comparison tool uses government info, Washington Post calls for more transparency

October 30, 2014 4:06 PM

In the absence of a hospice consumer guide from the government, The Washington Post has created one using available Medicare data. The newspaper unveiled the quality tool Sunday, in an article criticizing a lack of transparency around hospice quality. Read more »



State transparency study spooks hospitals and insurers

October 30, 2014 4:04 PM

It isn't often that insurers and hospitals come together on an issue involving payments, but that's what seems to be happening in reaction to a new study being funded by the state's Department of Financial Services.

Both groups worry that this project, which aims to add transparency to contract process between private hospitals and private insurance companies, could reveal proprietary information, and produce results that will be taken out of context. Read more »



School Board must discuss its own performance in open meeting

October 30, 2014 4:03 PM

Caroline County's school board members went into a closed session last week to discuss, among other matters, their own performance. It's probably not a bad idea to evaluate themselves occasionally, but they shouldn't keep it secret from county residents.

In fact, using a closed meeting under the personnel exemption to talk about themselves is not permitted under state law. Virginia's Freedom of Information Act permits closed meetings to discuss ìspecific' people they have the authority to hire, fire, discipline or evaluate. Read more »



Sex, Lies, and The FOIA: Wotjas v. Town of Stonington and The Disclosure of Sexual Harassment Complaints, Regardless of 'Guilt.'

October 30, 2014 4:02 PM

This author wrote previously on the status of sexual harassment investigations under the Freedom of Information Act ['FOIA']. In a case that has grabbed some notoriety; the Freedom of Information Commission ['FOIC'] has offered further guidance and reminders as to the public nature of sexual harassment complaints. Read more »



Transparency Groups Seek White House Position on FOIA Reforms

October 30, 2014 4:01 PM

Fifty transparency organizations and watchdog groups are pressing the White House to state its position on a number of core reforms they say are needed to fix the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

In a letter released last week, the 50 groups requested the White House's opinion on legislative efforts included in the FOIA Improvements Act of 2014, which is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Read more »



Dysfunctional Disability Judges

October 29, 2014 11:49 AM

The federal government's disability fund is set to run a $75 billion cash-flow deficit this year, and the program's own judges are reportedly responsible for running it into the ground. Congressional reports have highlighted allegations of disability judges' rubber-stamping cases, snoozing on the job, sexually harassing colleagues, and colluding with corrupt lawyers - but the Social Security Administration continues to be more concerned with shielding questionable judges from much-needed scrutiny that it is with protecting the disability fund's financial integrity. Read more »



EDITORIAL: Cuomo administration blocks transparency

October 29, 2014 11:45 AM

Forty years ago, the New York State Legislature adopted the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and declared the government needed to be 'responsive and responsible to the public,' but most of all that 'the government is the public's business.'

The Legislature got it right. And 40 years later, it is almost impossible to imagine any citizen arguing against the sentiments expressed in that legislative declaration. Read more »



Tracking the Postal Surveillance System

October 29, 2014 11:42 AM

Last year, Ron Nixon discovered a small-business owner whose mail was being monitored by the United States Postal Service. After looking deeper, he realized that the snail-mail monitoring program is more common than he thought. Mr. Nixon describes the year-long reporting process. He also spoke to WNYC's The Takeaway about the subject this morning. Read more »



Editorial: Maryland needs more sunshine

October 29, 2014 11:39 AM

Wen legislation passes the Maryland General Assembly unanimously, it usually means that it doesn't do much aside from make lawmakers look good. Such was the case with House Bill 658, which started life as an effort to make state government more transparent and was ultimately reduced to another summer study last spring. Read more »



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