FOI Advocate Blog

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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May 22, 2013 2:11 PM

From The Hill:  The Republican National Committee on Wednesday sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Internal Revenue Service demanding the agency turn over any documents related to the targeting of Tea Party groups.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus said the move was triggered by Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the controversy, announcing she will invoke her Fifth Amendment rights at Wednesday's House Oversight Committee hearing about the scandal.

 

March 22, 2013 9:40 AM

From Fierce Government:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved bills March 20 that would grant the Government Accountability Office more power and make popular Freedom of Information Act requests more available to the public.

Among the changes the GAO bill (H.R. 1162), sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), would institute are:

  • The ability to litigate to compel access to federal agency information;
  • the right to make and retain copies of agency records;
  • the ability to administer oaths to witnesses when conducting audits and certain types of investigations;
  • the authority to access certain categories of records.
March 12, 2013 2:47 PM

From The Washington Examiner:

In a rare-for-Congress show of bi-partisanship, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today introduced new draft legislation designed the strengthen the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The FOIA, signed into law in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, is the main avenue for citizens who wish to obtain information about federal government activities.

[...]

A copy of the 23-page draft can be read here.



February 12, 2013 10:45 AM

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

A U.S. House panel has asked the Justice Department to explain why agencies have not implemented President Barack Obama’s 2009 pledge to make government more transparent by releasing records requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, the panel’s top Democrat, asked Justice to explain why many agencies haven’t followed an order to update procedures for complying with the open-records law.

The letter seeking an explanation was sent to the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy, which oversees government compliance with FOIA and provides legal advice on requests for records.

 

March 16, 2012 11:49 AM

A few open government and FOIA news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier. Be sure to check out Sunshine Week 2012 News while you're at it.

Government confirms it has secret interpretation of Patriot Act Spy Powers

The government has just officially confirmed what we've long suspected: there are secret Justice Department opinions about the Patriot Act's Section 215, which allows the government to get secret orders from a special surveillance court (the FISA Court) requiring Internet service providers and other companies to turn over "any tangible things." Just exactly what the government thinks that phrase means remains to be seen, but there are indications that their take on it is very broad.

Visit ACLU for the rest.

Requests for public records from Wis. Gov. Walker's office increase three-fold

MADISON, Wis. — The firestorm of debate ignited by Gov. Scott Walker's changes to collective bargaining rules last year also triggered an explosion of requests for public information from his office. The office received 214 written requests during 2011, some three times more than the previous governor saw just a few years earlier, Gannett Wisconsin Media found while checking public records activity as part of a Sunshine Week open-government initiative.

Visit The Republic for the rest.

Results vary in local public records audit

Without access to public records, revealing the day-to-day happenings in government — from the mundane to the corrupt — would citizens be informed? Government really does control people’s lives, said Rowland Thompson, executive director of Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington. It controls who puts money in and who takes money out.

Visit Daily Record for the rest.

FOIA request flushes out details of settlement

Details of the settlement reached in a former New Milford police official’s $10 million federal lawsuit against the town, Mayor Patricia Murphy and the town’s police chief have been obtained by The Housatonic Times in response to a freedom of information request.

Visit Litchfield County Times for the rest.

Obama FOIA efforts earn mixed grades

Many federal agencies have failed to track basic information in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, according to a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee study released Thursday. A separate, rosier study from nonprofit OMBWatch noted FOIA progress compared to previous years.

Visit Government Executive for the rest.

Arizona Republic and 12 News fight to access public records

The Arizona Republic and 12 News in 2011 successfully went to court more than 10 times to open public records for inspection. Journalists fight every day to open records and meeting to the public, but these cases stand out as significant legal victories.

Visit TucsonCitizen.com for the rest.

Agencies to launch portal for online FOIA requests

WASHINGTON — Filing a request for public information under the Freedom of Information Act can be easy — if you know where to send it. If you don't, you may end up sending your request to multiple agencies, hoping you picked the right one ... By October, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce and the National Archives and Records Administration hope to launch an electronic FOIA portal that would give the public one place to file a FOIA request.

Visit Democrat and Chronicle for the rest.

March 16, 2012 10:22 AM

From Washington Post:

Eleven of 17 Cabinet-level agencies fail to fully comply with federal law requiring complete inventories of public records requests, and most large agencies earn a subpar grade for records management, according to a new congressional report.

The report, set for release Thursday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is meant to draw attention to government transparency issues during this year’s Sunshine Week, an annual event designed to raise awareness about access to public records.

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