DCOGC: Independence of D.C. Watchdog Office Threatened, Coalition Tells D.C. Council

Plans are under way inside D.C. government to change the law in ways likely to disable the Office of Open Government (OOG). The D.C. Open Government Coalition testified February 23 at the annual performance oversight hearing on the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability (BEGA) that includes the OOG.

Proposals in the works at the board could harm the office, according to the Coalition’s government affairs committee chair, attorney Robert Becker. He reported on a text of a bill obtained by the Coalition and under consideration by D.C. officials.

The Council established the board, and the OOG as an independent office within it, in a larger ethics law that took effect in 2012. The board, under that law, appoints the director to a 5-year term (removable only for cause). The director is authorized to employ staff as needed to carry out the Office’s mandate to enforce the Open Meetings Act and oversee the D.C. Freedom of Information Act.