Freedom of Information

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  • This Week in FOIA: DOJ Guidance and Fee Status Decision

    The FOIA blog
    scott hodes
    2 Jul 2015 | 10:33 am
    The Department of Justice has issued guidance on when it is appropriate and how still interested letters should be used by requesters.  Some agencies have been accused of using still interested letters as a way to close requests rather than processing the material. Judge Christopher Cooper of the District of Columbia Federal Court has overturned a Department of Homeland Security decision that the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which is associated with Syracuse University was a commercial user for FOIA purposes.  The decision found that TRAC was both a member of…
  • Display of Confederate flags faces First Amendment test

    FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION » News & Opinion
    donal brown
    2 Jul 2015 | 12:41 pm
    Writing in The Hill, June 30, 2015, Alberto R. Gonzales reminds us that the First Amendment protects free speech rights to prevent government censorship. In the wake of the horrendous church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, many want the Confederate flag removed from public property as a symbol of hate and racism. It is another […]
  • Caldwell trustees mum on superintendent, assistant removal

    IDOG
    IDOG
    24 Jun 2015 | 10:30 am
    Residents of Caldwell packed the school district board room Monday night to address trustees with a host of questions and expressions of disappointment one week after the board removed Superintendent Tim Rosandick and Assistant Superintendent Luci Asumendi from active duty status. From the Idaho Press-Tribune
  • At the National Constitution Center, all money is created equal

    OpenSecrets Blog
    Alex Lazar
    2 Jul 2015 | 1:44 pm
    (National Constitution Center) Independence Day is just around the corner, and families across America will be in search of fun (and maybe even educational) activities to participate in over the weekend. For anyone in Philadelphia — where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were approved and signed, a good place to start would be the National Constitution Center. The museum, which has plenty of activities planned for the holiday weekend, was established by Congress in order to “disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a non-partisan…
  • High-profile hosts line Hillary Clinton's fundraising trail

    Sunlight Foundation Blog
    Idrees Kahloon
    2 Jul 2015 | 7:49 am
    Hillary Clinton's official photo as secretary of state in 2009. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attended a $2,700-per-person fundraiser at the home of Lynn Rothschild on Tuesday, the same day that archived emails released by the State Department showed that Rothschild may have influenced a profile of the former secretary of state. In an email from August 2009, one of the 3,000 released on Tuesday, Rothschild told Clinton that she spent the previous day on Nantucket with Les Gelb of Parade Magazine, who had relayed his pitch for an upcoming profile of the then-secretary of…
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    The FOIA blog

  • This Week in FOIA: DOJ Guidance and Fee Status Decision

    scott hodes
    2 Jul 2015 | 10:33 am
    The Department of Justice has issued guidance on when it is appropriate and how still interested letters should be used by requesters.  Some agencies have been accused of using still interested letters as a way to close requests rather than processing the material. Judge Christopher Cooper of the District of Columbia Federal Court has overturned a Department of Homeland Security decision that the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which is associated with Syracuse University was a commercial user for FOIA purposes.  The decision found that TRAC was both a member of…
  • IRS Sued Over Bonus Information

    scott hodes
    30 Jun 2015 | 4:36 am
    Tax Analysts has sued the IRS over an unfilled FOIA request seeking information on who at the agency got bonuses.  Forbes has this on the lawsuit. I think the larger point is that the IRS is just overwhelmed.  A number of employees have been detailed to seek the Lois Lerner emails, their budget has been shrunk, and they just can't get ahead of the curve.  This is where those in leadership positions from the federal government FOIA community should come in and proactively assist the agency rather than just standing by and thinking "glad its not…
  • Follow Up: New FOIA Exemption Stalled in Senate

    scott hodes
    29 Jun 2015 | 10:32 am
    Many readers will remember that earlier this month, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempted to push through a new FOIA exemption without any debate on the floor of the Senate.  However, as the Sunlight Foundation reports, this attempt was blocked and the National Defense Authorization Act no longer has a new FOIA exemption attached to it. It is not clear if McConnell will continue to fight transparency when the Senate considers legislation in the upcoming weeks.
  • Monday FOIA News Roundup

    scott hodes
    22 Jun 2015 | 5:05 am
    I've returned from Denver where I participated in the American Society for Access Professional's FOIA Workshop.  The Students were fantastic - I'm always excited to talk to FOIA professionals who want to do their jobs better.  They are more opportunities for ASAP training coming up soon - see ASAP's website for more. The following happened last week in the FOIA world: Homeland Security was found to be in "egregious violation" of the FOIA in a lawsuit against it - the Seattle Times has more. A rare FOIA trial is being held and the FBI had to…
  • Fillibuster Successful on New FOIA Exemption

    scott hodes
    12 Jun 2015 | 6:22 am
    Mitch McConnell's war on transparency lost a battle Thursday as his plan to add the Cybersecurity bill into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) failed according to Politico.  The McConnell plan would put the Cybersecurity bill into the NDAA but not allow any debate or amendments on the actual bill, which includes a broad 10th Exemption for the FOIA. 
 
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    FIRST AMENDMENT COALITION » News & Opinion

  • Display of Confederate flags faces First Amendment test

    donal brown
    2 Jul 2015 | 12:41 pm
    Writing in The Hill, June 30, 2015, Alberto R. Gonzales reminds us that the First Amendment protects free speech rights to prevent government censorship. In the wake of the horrendous church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, many want the Confederate flag removed from public property as a symbol of hate and racism. It is another […]
  • Justice Department report on Ferguson unrest the latest to pinpoint police violations of free speech and press

    donal brown
    2 Jul 2015 | 11:49 am
    A Justice Department report last week concluded that police in Ferguson, Missouri acted on orders to make protesters move on, violating their rights to assembly and free speech. Withholding information about the police shooting of Michael Brown also aggravated the unrest and increased animosity toward the authorities. (The Christian Science Monitor, June 320, 2015, by […]
  • New Jersey town loses lawsuit intended to muzzle open records request

    donal brown
    2 Jul 2015 | 10:48 am
    A citizen in Hamilton Township in New Jersey was sued by the town for requesting surveillance footage of town buildings under the Open Public Records Act. A judge stepped up to end this bizarre lawsuit that had tried to get the judge to rule that the citizen would be barred from making any future open […]
  • University of California faculty speech guidelines come under fire

    donal brown
    30 Jun 2015 | 1:34 pm
    A new University of California faculty training guide detailing phrases that might cause students to feel discriminated against has drawn widespread criticism. The guide is meant to promote an atmosphere of “inclusive excellence” on campus. Included in a list of taboo statements are “American is the land of opportunity;” “affirmative action is racist;” “everyone can […]
  • California Brown Act roundup: District attorney finds violation by Burbank school board

    donal brown
    30 Jun 2015 | 11:29 am
    The Los Angeles County district attorney will not take any legal action but admonished the Burbank school board for violating the Brown Act for failing to report naming a finalist in its quest for a superintendent. Since the selection of the finalist has long since become public, the DA said it would not serve any […]
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    IDOG

  • Caldwell trustees mum on superintendent, assistant removal

    IDOG
    24 Jun 2015 | 10:30 am
    Residents of Caldwell packed the school district board room Monday night to address trustees with a host of questions and expressions of disappointment one week after the board removed Superintendent Tim Rosandick and Assistant Superintendent Luci Asumendi from active duty status. From the Idaho Press-Tribune
  • Government seeks to shield terrorism witnesses from view

    IDOG
    10 Jun 2015 | 8:52 am
    Prosecutors want to hide two witnesses behind a screen in an upcoming terrorism trial to shield their identities from the public and allow them to testify using made-up names. From the Idaho Statesman
  • Open process to seek new Idaho Court of Appeals judge yields four finalists: Three women, one man

    IDOG
    1 Jun 2015 | 10:26 am
    Here’s an interesting contrast: While Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch pursue a secret process to name a recommended replacement for longtime U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge, who will take senior status July 3, a much different and more open process is under way to replace the retiring state Court of Appeals Judge Karen Lansing. From Eye on Boise/The Spokesman-Review
  • Idaho senators’ secret selection process for new federal judge raises questions

    IDOG
    27 Apr 2015 | 8:38 am
    It seems that women need not apply to the federal district court bench in Idaho. A secretive selection process that Idaho’s two senators have launched to find a replacement for U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge appears to be ignoring female candidates. From The Spokesman-Review
  • Fines to increase for violations of Idaho Open Meeting Law

    IDOG
    21 Apr 2015 | 8:14 am
    Gov. Butch Otter has signed HB 324 into law, sharply increasing fines for violations of the Idaho Open Meeting Law. Fines for regular violations would rise from $50 to $250; fines for knowing violations would rise from $500 to $1,500; and fines for knowing, repeated violations would rise from $500 to $2,500. From Eye on Boise/The Spokesman-Review
 
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    OpenSecrets Blog

  • At the National Constitution Center, all money is created equal

    Alex Lazar
    2 Jul 2015 | 1:44 pm
    (National Constitution Center) Independence Day is just around the corner, and families across America will be in search of fun (and maybe even educational) activities to participate in over the weekend. For anyone in Philadelphia — where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were approved and signed, a good place to start would be the National Constitution Center. The museum, which has plenty of activities planned for the holiday weekend, was established by Congress in order to “disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a non-partisan…
  • New York lawmaker raises funds in Puerto Rico amid debt crisis

    Will Tucker
    1 Jul 2015 | 12:15 pm
    Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) raised a substantial amount of her first-quarter money from Puerto Rico. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Never mind that Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is an ambitious but still relatively unknown Republican from upstate New York. Thanks to her political connections, she has fans in Puerto Rico. And Puerto Ricans may be counting their friends in Washington. With an imminent debt crisis looming over the Caribbean commonwealth that threatens the U.S. municipal bond market, Puerto Rico wants its public companies protected by…
  • Conservatives’ call to arms: “religious liberty” exemption from gay marriage decision

    Vanessa Rodriguez
    30 Jun 2015 | 2:13 pm
    Rep. Raul Labrador, House sponsor of the First Amendment Defense Act. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Just days after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges — which handed gay rights advocates their greatest victory yet, establishing a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry — conservatives are finagling ways to circumvent the decision. In Texas, the state attorney general was encouraging county clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples if it conflicted with their religious beliefs. In…
  • Donor demographics: old white guys edition, part III

    Andrew Mayersohn
    30 Jun 2015 | 9:16 am
    Mellody Hobson was the only African-American among the top 500 donors of the 2014 cycle. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision for Geffen Playhouse/AP Images) In the first two posts in this series, we found that the biggest campaign contributors mostly fit the stereotype of being old and male. Time to tackle the last descriptor in our characterization of mega-donors: their overwhelming whiteness. Race, of course, can be a fraught topic, and in this case we have the added disadvantage of not knowing how all of 2014’s top 500 donors would identify their ethnic backgrounds. So we made educated…
  • Meet Bobby Jindal’s money man

    Alex Lazar
    29 Jun 2015 | 7:40 am
    (AP Photo/Khue Bui) Louisiana governor-turned-2016 GOP presidential contender Bobby Jindal may not rank high in the polls, but he does have one thing going for him: a super PAC headed by a former member of Congress and longtime lobbyist who knows firsthand a few things about money in politics. Bob Livingston, who chairs the pro-Jindal super PAC Believe Again and is a former Republican member of the lower chamber from Louisiana, has used his own fundraising committees and personal resources to give, with his wife Bonnie, nearly $3.2 million to candidates, PACs and party committees at the…
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    Sunlight Foundation Blog

  • High-profile hosts line Hillary Clinton's fundraising trail

    Idrees Kahloon
    2 Jul 2015 | 7:49 am
    Hillary Clinton's official photo as secretary of state in 2009. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attended a $2,700-per-person fundraiser at the home of Lynn Rothschild on Tuesday, the same day that archived emails released by the State Department showed that Rothschild may have influenced a profile of the former secretary of state. In an email from August 2009, one of the 3,000 released on Tuesday, Rothschild told Clinton that she spent the previous day on Nantucket with Les Gelb of Parade Magazine, who had relayed his pitch for an upcoming profile of the then-secretary of…
  • Advocacy efforts renew hope for anticorruption movement in Ukraine

    Lindsay Ferris
    30 Jun 2015 | 9:01 pm
    The Cabinet of Ministers. Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo credit: Daniel Haußmann/Wikimedia Commons) Since the revolution that led to the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych in early 2014, and as a war continues to rage on in the east, the pulse of Ukrainian citizens has oscillated between hope, concern and chaos. Some strides toward the promised anti-corruption reforms have been made — including the passage of a transparency bill earlier this year. However, a year later, public opinion is mixed as critics purport that the the new government has not delivered on these promises.
  • Feingold's comeback bid gets major jolt from online donors

    Idrees Kahloon
    30 Jun 2015 | 6:30 am
    Former Sen. Russ Feingold speaking at Arizona State University in 2012 Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who announced in May his plans to run for the Senate seat he lost in 2010, raised more than $900,000 online this quarter — making it likely that his committee will raise $1 million when the quarter ends on June 30. A Wisconsin Democratic Party official confirmed that Feingold's campaign will break $1 million when its full filings are released by the July 15 deadline. Federal Election Commission filings from ActBlue, the online fundraising tool for Democratic candidates and…
  • Improving how citizens email Congress with smart illustrations

    Nikole Grad
    29 Jun 2015 | 9:01 pm
    Last summer, Sunlight created a feature that allowed you to email your lawmakers just as easily as you would a friend or colleague. One year later, we are improving the user experience by writing new text and illustrating custom icons to enhance the meaning of it. The impetus to these changes started with user support tickets — a lot of them. Users were confused and quickly frustrated with certain parts of the emailing process, including an introductory email Sunlight had to send to users in order for them to utilize the tool. For more background on this, click here. The introductory email…
  • Sunlight in Argentina

    Christopher Gates, Sunlight Foundation president and John Wonderlich
    29 Jun 2015 | 10:52 am
    Casa Rosada, the Presidential Palace in Argentina. (Photo credit: Dragan/Wikimedia Commons) We are excited to announce that Sunlight is taking our international work to the next level, launching an 18-month effort to help translate global reform into national action through sustained and focused in-country work. With generous support from the Hewlett Foundation, we are now starting work with our friends and allies in Argentina toward a shared vision of an open and inclusive society — and more accountable governance. We have just returned from our first trip to Buenos Aires and could not…
 
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    Deeplinks

  • EFF Launches Badge Hacking Contest for DEF CON 23

    2 Jul 2015 | 3:19 pm
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is proud to present the DEF CON 23 Badge Hack Pageant (1337 skills required, swimsuit optional). Now is the time to bring out your sweetest hacks and sickest mods in a no-holds-barred battle for hardware supremacy. You are free to excel in practicality, absurdity, devastating good looks, or all three. Break out your hacker con badge collection and have at it. An esteemed panel of celebrity judges will decide the fate of contestants. The path to victory is simple... 1. Enter in one of three categories:     • DEF CON DIGITAL: Circuit board-based badge from…
  • EFF Is Turning 25 and We Want to Celebrate With You

    1 Jul 2015 | 11:45 pm
    We're the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and we're thrilled to be celebrating a quarter-century of fighting for digital rights. We're kicking off this milestone in two ways: a membership drive and a party and minicon in San Francisco on July 16. We're asking people to donate and become members because we fight passionately for the rights of individuals—and in turn, rely deeply on individuals to strengthen our work as we confront threats from powerful institutions and as technology transforms our lives. We're throwing the party to celebrate 25 years of work in the digital world and imagine…
  • Research Shows Internet Shutdowns and State Violence Go Hand in Hand in Syria

    1 Jul 2015 | 9:34 am
    EFF has noted and protested when authorities deliberately cut off Internet access in times of unrest.  As a restraint on the freedom of expression of those affected, communication blackouts during protests are unconscionable.  But recent research by Anita Gohdes, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Mannheim, suggests that Internet shutdowns are becoming part of a toolkit for more violent repression. By analyzing the daily documented killings by the government in the Syrian civil war in conjunction with available data on country-wide Internet outages between March 2011 and…
  • Same Old FISA Court? Thoughts on the Opinion Extending Mass Surveillance for Six More Months

    1 Jul 2015 | 9:04 am
    The first line of the opinion issued earlier this week by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) reauthorizing the NSA’s mass surveillance of telephone records is telling: “‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,’ well, at least for 180 days.” The court’s observation that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” refers to the fact that its opinion allows the bulk collection of phone records one last time, through the end of November. But the court could have also been describing its disappointing business-as-usual approach to deciding how…
  • EFF Stands With Innovative Developers in the Wake of Oracle v. Google

    30 Jun 2015 | 11:33 pm
    The Supreme Court’s refusal to review the Federal Circuit’s dangerous decision in Oracle v. Google means that court’s decision will stand for now. EFF, along with leading computer scientists and copyright practitioners, thinks the Federal Circuit got it wrong: the legal precedents that the Federal Circuit refused to follow, as well as the realities of software development, argue against treating application programming interfaces (APIs) as copyrightable. And while the case isn’t over, we’re worried that litigious, well-heeled software companies will begin to threaten innovative…
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    The Fine Print: blog posts from Center for Effective Government

  • $248 a Minute? CEO Pay is Sky-high at America's Low-wage Employers

    sklinger
    2 Jul 2015 | 5:29 am
    Florida’s Disney World bills itself “the happiest place on Earth.” But last year, some Disney World employees made so little they became homeless. Meanwhile, Disney paid CEO Robert Iger $46.5 million. That amounts to a stunning $248 a minute if he works 60 hours a week. It’s over 2,200 times the median pay of the workers he employs to welcome guests, operate rides, sell food, and clean his theme parks, according to economist Dean Baker. Iger rakes in the price of a single-day pass to the main park every 25 seconds. His lowest-paid workers, meanwhile, can’t afford…
  • Pennsylvania Residents Near Fracking Sites Report Health Problems

    afrank
    29 Jun 2015 | 7:06 am
    Last week, Food & Water Watch released the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s log of health complaints from communities living near fracking sites. The logs include many of the health complaints that critiques have linked to fracking for years – and the state’s inadequate response.  People reported respiratory problems, hair loss, and headaches, and they attributed their symptoms to foul-smelling air and water. Food & Water Watch obtained the health log through a public records request, following a news report that Department of Health officials are forbidden…
  • A Victory for Americans' Safety: Senate Rejects Proposal that Would Have Crippled the National Weather Service

    ddarcy
    26 Jun 2015 | 7:21 am
    As a college undergraduate, I majored in meteorology. When you walk into your first college meteorology class, you ask your classmates two questions: 1) Which weather event made you want to be a meteorologist? 2) Do you want to be a broadcast meteorologist or work for the National Weather Service (NWS)? While Americans usually hear a tornado or winter storm warning from meteorologists on television or radio, it is the unseen and unheard professionals at the National Weather Service who issue the warnings. But Sen. John Thune (R-SD) recently introduced a bill with a provision that would have…
  • Does EPA's New Finding on Airplane Emissions Clear the United States for Takeoff on Climate Change Standards?

    ddarcy
    25 Jun 2015 | 9:55 am
    Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed finding that linked airplane emissions to climate change and adverse public health effects, setting the stage for future standards on aircraft emissions. In the past few years, the EPA has moved forward with regulating greenhouse gases from electricity and transportation, which make up 60 percent of all climate change pollution in the U.S. Will it push one more rule through?    Airplanes make up eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. This may not sound like a lot, but it…
  • Dysfunction Junction: Another Industry-backed Effort to Delay Crucial Safeguards and Cripple the Regulatory Process

    tmatsuoka
    23 Jun 2015 | 11:50 am
      Effective public safeguards protect all of us from toxic chemicals, air pollution, water contamination, and unsafe food. Streamlining the process of strengthening and updating these standards would help us fight new and emerging dangers. But earlier this year, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) quietly introduced a resolution that would inject Congress into the federal regulatory review process and slam the brakes on a rulemaking system that is already fraught with delays that put people's lives and health at risk. Rounds and his co-sponsors claim that the measure, the Regulation Sensibility…
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    Sunlight Foundation Blog

  • High-profile hosts line Hillary Clinton's fundraising trail

    Idrees Kahloon
    2 Jul 2015 | 7:49 am
    Hillary Clinton's official photo as secretary of state in 2009. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attended a $2,700-per-person fundraiser at the home of Lynn Rothschild on Tuesday, the same day that archived emails released by the State Department showed that Rothschild may have influenced a profile of the former secretary of state. In an email from August 2009, one of the 3,000 released on Tuesday, Rothschild told Clinton that she spent the previous day on Nantucket with Les Gelb of Parade Magazine, who had relayed his pitch for an upcoming profile of the then-secretary of…
  • Advocacy efforts renew hope for anticorruption movement in Ukraine

    Lindsay Ferris
    30 Jun 2015 | 9:01 pm
    The Cabinet of Ministers. Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo credit: Daniel Haußmann/Wikimedia Commons) Since the revolution that led to the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych in early 2014, and as a war continues to rage on in the east, the pulse of Ukrainian citizens has oscillated between hope, concern and chaos. Some strides toward the promised anti-corruption reforms have been made — including the passage of a transparency bill earlier this year. However, a year later, public opinion is mixed as critics purport that the the new government has not delivered on these promises.
  • Feingold's comeback bid gets major jolt from online donors

    Idrees Kahloon
    30 Jun 2015 | 6:30 am
    Former Sen. Russ Feingold speaking at Arizona State University in 2012 Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who announced in May his plans to run for the Senate seat he lost in 2010, raised more than $900,000 online this quarter — making it likely that his committee will raise $1 million when the quarter ends on June 30. A Wisconsin Democratic Party official confirmed that Feingold's campaign will break $1 million when its full filings are released by the July 15 deadline. Federal Election Commission filings from ActBlue, the online fundraising tool for Democratic candidates and…
  • Improving how citizens email Congress with smart illustrations

    Nikole Grad
    29 Jun 2015 | 9:01 pm
    Last summer, Sunlight created a feature that allowed you to email your lawmakers just as easily as you would a friend or colleague. One year later, we are improving the user experience by writing new text and illustrating custom icons to enhance the meaning of it. The impetus to these changes started with user support tickets — a lot of them. Users were confused and quickly frustrated with certain parts of the emailing process, including an introductory email Sunlight had to send to users in order for them to utilize the tool. For more background on this, click here. The introductory email…
  • Sunlight in Argentina

    Christopher Gates, Sunlight Foundation president and John Wonderlich
    29 Jun 2015 | 10:52 am
    Casa Rosada, the Presidential Palace in Argentina. (Photo credit: Dragan/Wikimedia Commons) We are excited to announce that Sunlight is taking our international work to the next level, launching an 18-month effort to help translate global reform into national action through sustained and focused in-country work. With generous support from the Hewlett Foundation, we are now starting work with our friends and allies in Argentina toward a shared vision of an open and inclusive society — and more accountable governance. We have just returned from our first trip to Buenos Aires and could not…
 
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    WordPress Tag: Open Government

  • Where Can I Get Basic FOIA Facts?

    amyatogis
    2 Jul 2015 | 6:10 am
    Take a look inside for some basic facts on where to find what basic FOIA information! (NARA Identifier 7859193) A little over a month ago, 18F—the digital services shop at the General Services Administration that’s modeled after tech-sector start-ups—released openFOIA. This website gives requesters a central location to learn how to make Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to any of the 100 federal departments and agencies that process public requests for records. The release of openFOIA helps meet one of the commitments to “Modernize the FOIA” included in the second U.S.
  • GovTech is Not Broken

    mheadd
    26 Jun 2015 | 8:48 am
    When we talk about the challenges that face governments in acquiring and implementing new technology
  • Reflections on the career of Rod Dobell, on the occasion of the west-coast launch of “A Subtle Balance”

    Justin Longo
    24 Jun 2015 | 9:53 pm
    Parson, Edward A. (ed.). 2015.  A Subtle Balance: Expertise, Evidence, and Democracy in Policy Policy Governance, 1970-2010. Montreal/Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. Rod Dobell at the west coast book launch of A Subtle Balance I first started working for Rod in about 1972. That was a joke. It’s a joke that my wife doesn’t really find all that funny, but a joke nonetheless. But in the intervening many years, I learned more from him than I can remember, completed a PhD in public administration under his guidance (though, truth be told, he probably still doesn’t…
  • Everywhere Across The World, Charter Schools Are Falling Apart

    kavips
    20 Jun 2015 | 9:14 pm
    The Charter sham is up!… All know too much for it to continue… For those who don’t know, the sham worked this way…. People pay for a study to create a report stating how bad public education is..   Then they say they have a better solution: charters. Then they say they will need these three things, if you want THEM to educate their kids….  Complete  control. no accountability, and immunity from all future indemnifications.  Then buy the necessary votes…. and presto…. charter schools…… ===== But… one small problem… charters…
  • Open Gov Plan 3.0

    arianravanbakhsh
    15 Jun 2015 | 6:57 am
    Later this year, the U.S. Government will publish the third National Open Government Action Plan (NAP). This will build on the prior action plans published in 2011 and 2013. Our efforts to improve the management of government records, through things like the Managing Government Records Directive, have been included in these previous plans. Now, we are soliciting input on this effort from our stakeholders. Please read this post from the Open Government Initiative to see how you can get involved. We look forward to your suggestions and getting them in the next version of the National Open…
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    Sunlight Foundation Blog

  • High-profile hosts line Hillary Clinton's fundraising trail

    Idrees Kahloon
    2 Jul 2015 | 7:49 am
    Hillary Clinton's official photo as secretary of state in 2009. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attended a $2,700-per-person fundraiser at the home of Lynn Rothschild on Tuesday, the same day that archived emails released by the State Department showed that Rothschild may have influenced a profile of the former secretary of state. In an email from August 2009, one of the 3,000 released on Tuesday, Rothschild told Clinton that she spent the previous day on Nantucket with Les Gelb of Parade Magazine, who had relayed his pitch for an upcoming profile of the then-secretary of…
  • Advocacy efforts renew hope for anticorruption movement in Ukraine

    Lindsay Ferris
    30 Jun 2015 | 9:01 pm
    The Cabinet of Ministers. Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo credit: Daniel Haußmann/Wikimedia Commons) Since the revolution that led to the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych in early 2014, and as a war continues to rage on in the east, the pulse of Ukrainian citizens has oscillated between hope, concern and chaos. Some strides toward the promised anti-corruption reforms have been made — including the passage of a transparency bill earlier this year. However, a year later, public opinion is mixed as critics purport that the the new government has not delivered on these promises.
  • Feingold's comeback bid gets major jolt from online donors

    Idrees Kahloon
    30 Jun 2015 | 6:30 am
    Former Sen. Russ Feingold speaking at Arizona State University in 2012 Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who announced in May his plans to run for the Senate seat he lost in 2010, raised more than $900,000 online this quarter — making it likely that his committee will raise $1 million when the quarter ends on June 30. A Wisconsin Democratic Party official confirmed that Feingold's campaign will break $1 million when its full filings are released by the July 15 deadline. Federal Election Commission filings from ActBlue, the online fundraising tool for Democratic candidates and…
  • Improving how citizens email Congress with smart illustrations

    Nikole Grad
    29 Jun 2015 | 9:01 pm
    Last summer, Sunlight created a feature that allowed you to email your lawmakers just as easily as you would a friend or colleague. One year later, we are improving the user experience by writing new text and illustrating custom icons to enhance the meaning of it. The impetus to these changes started with user support tickets — a lot of them. Users were confused and quickly frustrated with certain parts of the emailing process, including an introductory email Sunlight had to send to users in order for them to utilize the tool. For more background on this, click here. The introductory email…
  • Sunlight in Argentina

    Christopher Gates, Sunlight Foundation president and John Wonderlich
    29 Jun 2015 | 10:52 am
    Casa Rosada, the Presidential Palace in Argentina. (Photo credit: Dragan/Wikimedia Commons) We are excited to announce that Sunlight is taking our international work to the next level, launching an 18-month effort to help translate global reform into national action through sustained and focused in-country work. With generous support from the Hewlett Foundation, we are now starting work with our friends and allies in Argentina toward a shared vision of an open and inclusive society — and more accountable governance. We have just returned from our first trip to Buenos Aires and could not…
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    Federation Of American Scientists » Secrecy News Blog Posts

  • Criminal Justice Reform, and More from CRS

    Steven Aftergood
    30 Jun 2015 | 7:05 am
    “The number of people incarcerated in the United States has increased dramatically over the past three decades,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes, from around 419,000 inmates in 1983 to about 1.5 million inmates in 2013. “The incarceration rate increased from 179 per 100,000 people in 1983 to 478 per 100,000 in 2013,” generating mounting concerns about the economic, social and other consequences of the criminal justice system. At this point, CRS says, “incarceration has probably reached the point of diminishing returns.” The new…
  • Contrasting Views on Public Release of CRS Reports

    Steven Aftergood
    30 Jun 2015 | 7:00 am
    Last year, the Congressional Research Service produced more than 1,000 new reports and more than 2,500 updates of previous reports for the use of Congress, according to the latest CRS annual report. Those figures do not include “approximately 62,000 requests for custom analysis and research” for individual members or Committees. “For all public policy issues, Congress could rely on the authoritative, objective, timely, and confidential support that CRS offered at each stage of the legislative process,” the CRS annual report said. In principle, CRS should be able to…
  • Insider Threat Program Advances, Slowly

    Steven Aftergood
    24 Jun 2015 | 10:38 am
    The Department of Defense recently demonstrated the “Continuous Evaluation” of approximately 100,000 cleared military, civilian and contractor personnel, in order to validate their eligibility for access to classified information on an ongoing basis. Continuous Evaluation (CE) refers to the automated monitoring of government and commercial databases for signs of criminal behavior, irregular financial activity, or other “triggers” that could lead to suspension of a security clearance. CE is a central feature of the emerging Insider Threat program that is intended to…
  • Public Mass Shooting a Persistent Threat (CRS)

    Steven Aftergood
    18 Jun 2015 | 8:53 am
    Mass killings of the sort that took place yesterday in Charleston, South Carolina are a distressingly frequent occurrence. There were 78 public mass shootings in the United States between 1983 and 2013, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. “According to CRS estimates, over the last three decades public mass shootings have claimed 547 lives and led to an additional 476 injured victims,” the report said. Of course, gun violence in America is much more common than mass killings. “While tragic and shocking, public mass shootings account for few of the…
  • Public Access to CRS Reports, Revisited

    Steven Aftergood
    17 Jun 2015 | 7:49 am
    “Congressional Research Belongs to the Public,” declared a New York Times editorial today, and it is “absurd” that Congress would place any obstacles in the way of public access to Congressional Research Service reports, which provide impartial analyses of current policy issues. Yet such obstacles continue to exist, and most CRS reports are not publicly disclosed by Congress. A measure to require the online publication of non-confidential CRS products (H.Res. 34) was introduced in the House of Representatives last January by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Martin…
 
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    Coding Defined

  • Controlling Visibility in BootStrap

    Hemant Joshi
    2 Jul 2015 | 12:25 am
    In this post we are going to discuss and learn about how to control visibility in bootstrap. In Bootstrap you will find some handful helper classes which will help you for faster mobile-friendly UI development. These are useful classes which can be used for showing and hiding content by device via media query.In one of our previous posts we have discussed about Controlling Size and Placement in BootStrap, but beyond just simply controlling size and placement, one of the other things that is going to vary depending on the screen size and maybe even the mode is going to be visibility. Lets say…
  • Introducing Meat - Git Collaboration Platform

    Hemant Joshi
    25 Jun 2015 | 7:26 am
    In this post we are going to introduce Meat which is a free self hosted Git Collaboration platform with all the tools you need to develop web projects better. Meat Standalone is a downloadable version of Meat which can be hosted on your servers.Meat Standalone means that all the repository data will be stored on machines in your local network. One good thing about this is that there is no limit on the number and size of repositories in the work-space.PC : https://getmeat.io/This solution is perfect for the teams who need all the controls over their code and project data and who wants to…
  • Control Content Placement in Bootstrap

    Hemant Joshi
    24 Jun 2015 | 5:58 am
    In this post we are going to discuss about controlling content placement in Bootstrap. In our previous posts we had discussed about Bootstrap Grid System and BootStrap Classes, where we learnt that the ability to re-size content based on screen size is an extremely powerful feature of Bootstrap. But we should know that along with having the ability to re-size content, we should also have the ability to manage content placement.Now you may ask us that what exactly is Content Placement. Content Placement actually means to show end user what is more relevant. Lets say you have an…
  • Introducing BootStrap Grid System

    Hemant Joshi
    19 Jun 2015 | 8:25 am
    In this post we will go through Bootstrap Grid System. Previously developers was using tables to layout pages, as they were easy to use. The problem of using tables is that it will post an extra challenge over the web browsers and the performance will degrade significantly. That's where Bootstrap Grid System will come into picture as the grids will behave like a table but will increase the performance over traditional tables approach.According to Bootstrap, it includes a responsive, mobile first fluid grid system that appropriately scales up to 12 columns as the device or view-port size…
  • Little about BootStrap Classes

    Hemant Joshi
    18 Jun 2015 | 7:36 am
    In this post we will go through some of the common bootstrap classes. In our previous post we have gone through Getting Started with Bootstrap, where we have created our first web page with Bootstrap. Everything you want to add onto a page by using Bootstrap is done by adding classes and HTML to the page. There are numerous Bootstrap classes.In simple terms you can call different components of Bootstrap by adding different classes. Let us go through 3 common bootstrap classes.container : The container class places content inside a horizontal container. The size of the container will vary…
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    FOIA Advisor

  • FOIA News: OIP releases updated guidance on "still-interested" letters

    Allan Blutstein
    3 Jul 2015 | 5:31 am
    Yesterday, July 2, 2015, the Office of Information Policy released updated guidance that outlines a series of procedures that agencies should use when inquiring whether a requester remains interested in the continued processing of his or her request. Note that in October 2014, fourteen "requester community" organizations requested that the Office of Government Information Services investigate the government's use of still-interested letters. 
  • FOIA News: Federal Maritime Commission proposes amendments to FOIA regulations

    Allan Blutstein
    3 Jul 2015 | 4:43 am
    On July 2, 2015, the Federal Register published a proposed rule that would amend the Federal Maritime Commission's FOIA regulations.The revisions "update and consolidate the provisions identifying records available without the need for a FOIA request, including records available on the Commission's public Web site; revise response time procedures for processing FOIA requests; affirmatively indicate that the Commission uses a multitrack system for processing FOIA requests; and modify the criteria for a FOIA request to qualify for expedited processing."The proposed rule will become…
  • Court opinions issued June 30 & July 1, 2015

    Allan Blutstein
    3 Jul 2015 | 4:28 am
    July 1, 2015Ctr. for the Study of Servs. v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs. (D.D.C.) -- rejecting government's Exemption 4 claim that disclosure of certain information related to health plans offered pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would likely cause competitive harm or undermine program effectiveness; denying each parties' motion for summary judgment, however, and warning each party to submit "a clearer presentation of the facts underlying the case."Kalu v. Internal Revenue Serv. (D.D.C.) -- ruling that request to IRS…
  • Court opinions issued June 29, 2015

    Allan Blutstein
    1 Jul 2015 | 5:40 pm
    Taylor v. Nat'l Sec. Agency (11th Cir.) -- holding that agency properly issued Glomar response in conjunction with Exemption 1 in response to pro se requester's request for records about himself.Speaking Truth To Power v. U.S. Nat'l Nuclear Sec. Admin. (E.D. Pa.) -- granting NNSA's motion for summary judgment after finding that agency had consucted an adequate search; stating that although agency's declaration "did not expressly state that 'all files likely to contain responsive materials ... were searched,' such magic words are not required when, as here, a reasonably…
  • Q&A: identity of FOIA requester

    Allan Blutstein
    1 Jul 2015 | 6:30 am
    Q.  Is the name of the requestor available to the notifying party?A.  The identity of a FOIA requester (as opposed to a Privacy Act requester) should be freely available to the public, as well as a copy of his or her FOIA request.  Certain personal information might be protected, however, such as a home address, telephone number, etc.  When a FOIA request seeks business or financial records (which sounds like your situation), the affected business or individual should be able to obtain both the identity of the requester and…
 
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