Looking towards next week’s open data executive order deadline

From Sunlight Foundation: November 30th marks the first major deadline for agency compliance with President Obama’s Open Data Executive Order and accompanying Memorandum M-13-13. In addition to representing an important step in the march towards open government and proper data management, this is an opportunity to evaluate agencies, identify best practices, and advocate for change. The Executive Order will continue to be implemented over the coming months and years, but agencies should, and will, be judged on how much effort they put into this first deadline….

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News media protest White House press access limits

From azcentral.com: WASHINGTON — Dozens of leading news organizations are protesting to the White House against restrictions that sometimes keep journalists from taking pictures and video of President Barack Obama performing official duties. At the same time, two press groups urged their members to stop using official photos and video handed out by the White House, dismissing them as little more than “government propaganda.”

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VA Risks Worsening Already-Bad FOIA Performance

COLUMBIA, Mo — The Veterans Administration’s so far unexplained new processing policy for FOIA requests is examined in this report by reporter John Ryan at KUOW radio, the NPR affiliate in Seattle.  

"Here's a new layer of review for an agency that is already doing poorly on response times, and it's probably going to make it worse," said Ken Bunting with the National Freedom of Information Coalition in Columbia, Mo. "Instead of improving the backlog, it's going to add to the backlog."

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Obama transparency edict gets lost in the fog

From The Washington Post: In his first inaugural address, President Obama said that “those of us who manage the public’s dollars” will “do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”

And he issued a memo to all department and agency heads instructing them that “my administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.”

But maybe the message hasn’t quite sunk in everywhere.

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“New” U.S. open government action plan unveiled

From NFOIC: COLUMBIA, Mo — The Obama Administration is releasing its 2013 open government National Action Plan today to coincide with the Open Government Partnership Annual Summit meeting in London.

In a preview report, the Administration claims it has delivered on 24 of 26 commitments it made in its initial National Action Plan in 2011.

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‘Independent review’ of US spying policy not subject to open-records law

From Watchdog.org: A special committee ordered by President Obama to review the legality of the National Security Agency’s spying programs will not be subject to government transparency laws.

The president created the NSA review group in August and publicly promised it to be an “independent review” of NSA programs revealed by leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden. Obama promised that the committee would be a “high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies.”

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White House expands guidance on promoting open data

From NextGov:  White House officials have announced expanded technical guidance to help agencies make more data accessible to the public in machine-readable formats.

Following up on President Obama’s May executive order linking the pursuit of open data to economic growth, innovation and government efficiency, two budget and science office spokesmen on Friday published a blog post highlighting new instructions and answers to frequently asked questions.

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Lawsuit seeks to restore FOIA access to NSC records

From Politico:  A legal clinic seeking information on the U.S. Government's use of drone strikes and "kill lists" in the war on terror is mounting a headlong drive to restore the Freedom of Information Act's reach into the White House.

For decades, the core federal transparency law had some—albeit limited—purchase in the White House. At least some National Security Council records could be obtained through FOIA, along with some administrative records relating to White House operations.

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