Empowerment Through Information

All communities are entitled to a transparent and accountable government, and those lacking political power are especially in need of access to government information. For example, there is often a disparate and deleterious impact on communities of color and low income communities when it comes to environmental and public health crises, law enforcement and surveillance programs, and government corruption. Our coalition works to ensure that vital federal government records are available to those who need them the most.

To Empower Communities, OTG:

  • Supports efforts to apply Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements to private contractors to ensure accountability when traditional government services are privatized.
  • Amplifies collective demands for greater transparency and oversight for law enforcement, including reforms around police use of force, immigration enforcement, and surveillance.
  • Advocates for legislation demanding greater transparency from companies that profit from taxpayer dollars to hold people in prisons and detention centers.
  • Calls for better data collection programs on policing by the Justice Department.
  • Supports legislation to create limitations and greater transparency for federal transfers of military arms to local police.
  • Amplifies coalition calls for accountability when agencies fail to meet congressional mandated reporting requirements

Impacts

  • Helped defeat harmful amendments that would further militarize law enforcement.
  • Fought for reforms to the surveillance law that allows the FBI and law enforcement agencies to circumvent Fourth Amendment protections and access data collected by the NSA. Transparency provisions in the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) include reporting requirements to enhance public knowledge about the FBI’s use of warrantless data.
  • Supported Congressional requests for greater transparency for private prisons and detention centers that receive government contracts.