News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. Groups to White House: Focus on Problem at Hand in Post-WikiLeaks Information Security Assessments
II. Administration Asked to Press DOJ on Anti-Disclosure Position at Supreme Court
In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]
This Friday, February 11, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and the American University Washington College of Law present the Food Integrity Campaign Conference 2011. During the day-long conference, speakers, panelists and attendees will address the changing legal landscape of employee rights resulting from the passage of the historic 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act. Learn more, and register, here.
The Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation have launched OpenGovernment.org to give the public easy access to official state government information – along with news coverage, blog posts, and social media alerts. The site launched with data from five state legislatures: California, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas and Wisconsin. More data and additional states and cities will be added as they become available.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University recently issued its latest report tracking trends in how the government has enforced the law during the last few years. The analysis finds that criminal enforcement under President Obama is significantly different than it was during the last two years of the Bush Administration. The report uses more than 500,000 case-by-case records obtained from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as well as information from the Office of Personnel Management and other sources.
Sunshine Week 2011 (March 13-19), a national effort spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors to promote a dialogue about the importance of the public’s right to know what its government is doing and why, will highlight people across U.S. who have fought hard for open government. Nominations are due by February 18.
The Project On Government Oversight – POGO has issued its good government guide for the 112th Congress. The guide includes nearly 50 policy recommendations for both Congress and the Executive to build a more effective, accountable, and open federal government.
A broad range of openness, national security, and civil rights organizations urged OMB Director Jacob Lew to conduct the President’s called-for review of safeguarding procedures for classified information in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosures in a manner that is targeted to the problem at hand and does not sweep so broadly as to infringe on protected constitutional rights and privacy interests of employees. The letter was prompted by concerns raised by a January 3 OMB Memo giving agencies guidance on initial assessments.
Listen to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org discuss the groups concerns on Federal News Radio’s DorobekInsider.
In a letter organized by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), transparency and accountability organizations wrote to Bob Bauer, Counsel to the President, to express profound disappointment in the anti-disclosure position articulated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in front of the Supreme Court during oral argument of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vs. AT&T. The DOJ’s argument that the FOIA exemptions should not always be interpreted narrowly flies in the face of case law and policy statements from the President and the Attorney General. The organizations ask the Administration to press DOJ to reconsider its position in light of the Administration’s policy pronouncements.