Reforms to solve open government challenges dominate FOI Summit

The National Freedom of Information Coalition concluded its 2018 FOI Summit in Cincinnati. The annual two-day conference features presentations from open government experts and practitioners on trending government issues in state and local public institutions. Attendees include NFOIC’s state coalition directors, journalists, media lawyers and first amendment watchdogs.

This year’s conference included candid discussions about FOI and open government reforms needed in state legislatures and state and local government agencies. Deliberations included the need for evidence-based research and analysis to effectively address the challenges to transparency and access surrounding public information, proceedings and officials. Topics discussed by the attendees included:

  • Policies and practices justifying public record fees;
  • Increasing the use of open data and proactive disclosure to save time and resources of public agencies and the public;
  • Open meeting violations including the growing use of private communication and information sharing devices by government officials to conduct public business;
  • A review of three states’ open records appeal process to allow citizens another option when their public record request is denied; and
  • Overcoming challenges to access public information from the courts and law enforcement agencies –arguably the most difficult of government agencies in which to pursue public records.

Each year, the summit includes the induction of a new member into the State Open Government Hall of Fame. This year’s inductee, Terry Mutchler is recognized for her lifetime achievements in Pennsylvania.  Tom Curley, Associate General Counsel at the Gannett Company provided the keynote address. 

At the NFOIC directors meeting, Alyssa Doom, Senior Associate at The Pew Charitable Trusts was elected to the board of directors.  Board president, Mal Leary, Managing Editor, The Maine Capitol Connection Channel

and treasurer, Mark Horvit, Associate Professor, University of Missouri School of Journalism retained their positions on the NFOIC executive board. Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition of Open Government, and Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government serve as the board’s vice president and secretary, respectively.

NFOIC recognizes and thanks this year’s sponsors and contributors Bloomberg LP, C.W. Scripps Company, the Charles Koch Institute, the Gannett Company, Cincinnati Enquirer, Graydon Law, the Society of Professional Journalists/SDX Foundation, the Brechner Center for FOI and the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication.