NFOIC’s FOI Friday for March 2, 2012

A few open government and FOIA news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier:

NFOIC debuts #OpenGovVideos with interviews featuring Ken Bunting and Emily Ramshaw

The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) announced it has introduced #OpenGovVideos, an online video project that will help tell the story of why open government is important to all citizens.

#OpenGovVideos is an attempt to bring the topics of governmental transparency and the public’s right to know deeper into the mainstream through short, on-camera interviews with journalists, scholars, lawyers, and advocates from across the country.

Visit NFOIC for the rest.

Judge issues rare order to release classified document

A federal judge issued a highly unusual order Wednesday requiring the government to disclose a document that the Obama administration insists is classified.

The document at issue is only a single page long and lays out the initial negotiating position of the United States on a technical issue during longrunning but ultimately unsuccessful talks to establish a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.

Visit Politico for the rest.

“It’s None of Your Business: The Challenges of Getting Public Information for the Public"

Kathleen Carroll, of the Associated Press, spoke at the Freedom of Expression Forum at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin yesterday. The link to the entire transcript is below.

"…Citizens who seek information are ignored or, in the worst cases, punished just for asking. Last year, Associated Press journalists conducted the first ever test of those transparency laws. We asked the same questions of the European Union and the 105 nations with open records laws. And about half of the nations that mandate public disclosure had this answer: “It’s none of your business.”"

Visit Associated Press for the rest.

FOIA Statistics Shows the DOJ’s “94.5% Release Rate” is a “Stretch.”

In response to being awarded the Rosemary Award for worst open government performance in 2011, Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler told the Associated Press, that “Anyone who knows anything about the Freedom of Information Act will tell you that the Department of Justice is doing more than ever to promote openness and transparency under that act.”

I guess she was insinuating that the National Security Archive, which has filed over 40,000 Freedom of Information Act requests since 1985, doesn’t know anything about FOIA.

Visit National Security Archive for the rest.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Data

The United States Department of Agriculture is stepping up its online engagement and open data efforts. Yesterday, the USDA launched Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF) Compass, a new digital report detailing USDA support for local and regional food projects between 2009 – 2011.

The KYF Compass utilizes interactive maps, data sets, photos, video content, and business and community case studies to serve as a resource for consumers, farmers and local food producers, as well as a mandatory report to Congress. The interactive report, unveiled by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan via a live webinar, is significantly evolved for a government agency.

Visit Food and Tech for the rest.

Data for the Public Good

Can data save the world? Not on its own. As an age of technology-fueled transparency, open innovation and big data dawns around the world, the success of new policy won't depend on any single chief information officer, chief executive or brilliant developer.

Data for the public good will be driven by a distributed community of media, nonprofits, academics and civic advocates focused on better outcomes, more informed communities and the new news, in whatever form it is delivered.

Visit O'Reilly Radar for the rest.

Copyright Fight Hits the Lab

This week, the scientific publishing giant Elsevier, which produces thousands of academic journals, and Representatives Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, and Darrell Issa, a California Republican, withdrew their support for the Research Works Act after public outcry from public-access advocates. Currently, some federal agencies require that researchers who rely on government funding make their resulting journal publications freely accessible online.

The Research Works Act would have forbidden any agency from imposing this requirement, allowing publishers to retain rights to the papers. As with the recent battles over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), opposition and the sudden drop-off in support for the legislation suggests that big content companies are losing some of the traction in Washington they once enjoyed.

Visit The American Prospect for the rest.

Streaming council meetings – what’s the point?

What’s the point of streaming council meetings on the internet? Who on earth will be interested? As press officer Geoff Coleman explains, you’d be surprised.

Visit Birmingham News Room for the rest.