New York Times shares its story of using open-records laws to track COVID-19 and racial inequalities

In an April 14, 2021, article, The New York Times shares insights on its use of open-records laws to gain information on COVID-19 cases. Editors say using state and federal FOI laws has allowed the Times to provide a comprehensive look at coronavirus cases nationwide, and has revealed racial inequalities regarding who has faced the…

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Letter, signed by NFOIC, calls for oversight hearing on agency compliance with FOIA

The National Freedom of Information Coalition joined more than two dozen organizations in calling for a hearing on federal agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. An April 7, 2021, letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee said a hearing was necessary to understand FOIA implementation by the Trump Administration and to seek…

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Government watchdog files FOIA lawsuit seeking alleged EPA encryption documents

Judicial Watch Inc. filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit March 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that some Environmental Protection Agency officials “may have used the cellphone encryption application ‘Signal’ to thwart government oversight and transparency,” according to a Judicial Watch news release.

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OTG and more than 50 organizations call on ICE to comply with FOIA, release data on immigration enforcement cooperation

A coalition of organizations dedicated to government openness and accountability, human rights, civil rights, and immigrant rights is calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to comply with the legal obligations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and fully disclose information on immigration enforcement cooperation between federal and non-federal law enforcement agencies. We urge ICE to comply with the FOIA in a timely manner, and to permit the release of data on immigration enforcement cooperation in full compliance with local and state transparency laws.

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Classified Directives Listings Disappear from DOD and JCS Websites

FOIA requesters who relied on lists of classified directives published by both the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to know what documents to file FOIA requests for may now be out of luck. In a transparency backslide, both the DOD and JCS websites no longer publish lists of classified directives and instructions, making it impossible to know what to FOIA.

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D.C. Police Body Camera Update: A Year of Experience Shows None of the Problems Forecast In Mayor’s Push to Close Access

Since public access opened over a year ago, FOIA requests for video from Metropolitan Police body-worn cameras (BWC) have numbered just over sixty and redacting those released so far has cost only $25,000.

Those facts, released by the Open Government Coalition in a Sunshine Week briefing at the National Press Club, are far from the alarming estimates provided by the executive branch to the D.C. Council in the heat of the extended camera debate in 2015.

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WV: ACLU sends FOIA to investigate Elkins Police ‘cockroach memo’

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia filed the first of a series of Freedom Of Information Act requests Wednesday with the Elkins Police Department to investigate the former police chief's controversial memo. The memo referred to residents as "cockroaches" and read " I want them harassed if you know they are a cockroach!"

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State Dept. slow to hire open records staffers despite flood of requests

The State Department has faced a deluge of open records requests and lawsuits in recent months, many of them stemming from former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server throughout her tenure at the department.

This year, the State Department has been authorized to hire 25 new full-time staffers to work on processing requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

But only one has been hired, Obama administration lawyers disclosed in their filing this week.

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Sources: Obama transparency official stepping down

An official tasked with improving the operation of the Freedom of Information Act across the Obama Administration is resigning after less than a year on the job, several sources briefed on the move told Politico.

James Holzer took over last August as director of the Office of Government Information Services, which serves as an ombudsman between federal agencies and FOIA requesters. The office also conducts audits of agencies' FOIA operations and proposes ways to streamline those processes.

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