The Electronic Frontier Foundation secured the release of hundreds of pages of documents related to the government’s interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act through a FOIA lawsuit. The fully searchable documents include several orders from the FISA Court and provide increased insight into the law behind the NSA’s intelligence collection programs. Just a few short weeks ago, EFF forced the release of a 2011 FISC opinion finding NSA surveillance unconstitutional.
OpenTheGovernment.org joined the Center for Effective Government and 11 other groups in submitting comments supporting the public’s right to know how government funds are spent. The comments supported disclosure of Medicare payments—an estimated $555 billion in 2012—to medical providers in response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ request for comments on a potential release of Medicare physician data.
Last week the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report evaluating the Office of Government Information Services' (OGIS) ability to meet its statutory responsibilities to review agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), offer mediation services for FOIA disputes and make recommendations for improving FOIA processing. Overall, the GAO reports that OGIS is taking some steps to meet its responsibilities, but that OGIS' actions are not as robust as they should be to effectively comply with the law. GAO’s recommendations include that OGIS set a time frame for completing a methodology and begin carrying out proactive evaluations ofagency compliance, and that it create performance measures for its mediation services. This report also reflects concerns expressed in an earlier report on OGIS by the Inspector General (IG) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): while OGIS is under-staffed, there is not a plan to define what resources would be necessary to help OGIS better meet its responsibilities.
*edited on 9/20 – an earlier version of this entry noted a possible panel to mark the launch of the Secrecy Report Card. That event has been cancelled.