Policy and News Update for July 12, 2011

In This Issue:

News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. Audit Reveals Agencies Not Meeting Administration’s Sunshine Week Commitments
II. Open Government Partnership Kicks Off This Week

News from Coalition Partners & Others

 

First Amendment Center Posts Sunshine Week Videos

Log on to the First Amendment Center to watch all of the 2011 National FOI Day Program. In order, the clips show Floyd Abrams delivering the keynote address; a panel on Wikileaks, including Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; a panel on open government, moderated by Gary Bass, formerly of OMB Watch and including Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive and Danielle Brian of the Project On Government Oversight – POGO; presentation of the James Madison award to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, and Hall of Fame Inductees; and, finally, a panel on the Public Interest Declassification Board’s (PIDB) efforts to "transform classification", including Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.

GAP Highlights Push for Better Whistleblower Protections

The Government Accountability Project – GAP recently released an open letter to President Obama from nearly 40 federal whistleblowers urging him to act to protect whistleblowers without further delay. The letter points out that over half a year has passed since legislation that enjoyed broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress was killed when one Senator placed a last-minute secret hold on the legislation.

 

I. Audit Reveals Agencies Not Meeting Administration’s Sunshine Week Commitments

The results of a recent audit completed by OpenTheGovernment.org show that only a handful of agencies are living up to the Administration’s commitment to make specific pieces of useful information easily available to the public. During this year’s Sunshine Week, the Administration announced they planned to take some concrete steps to improve the administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including giving agencies explicit instructions to proactively release employee directories, reports to Congress, and Congressional testimony on their /open pages. While almost 80% of the twenty-nine agencies we reviewed are making an effort to release some of the specified information available, only six agencies are fully compliant.

The results also show the great diversity in the quality and quantity of the information some agencies posted. Some "employee directories" consist of little more than an organization chart with biographies of top-level officials with no contact information, while others are only searchable by employee name. In order for the information to be useful and usable by the public (and cut down on the number of FOIA requests for the information) agencies must post something with at least enough information to satisfy most of their users’ needs.

Read more here: http://www.openthegovernment.org/node/3161.

 

II. Open Government Partnership Kicks Off This Week

Last night OpenTheGovernment.org co-hosted a reception welcoming more than 40 international open government activists in Washington, DC for the kickoff of the Open Government Partnership, an initiative that will bring together partners from many countries and sectors to support governments’ efforts to become more transparent, accountable, and participatory. Today, government participants from more than 55 countries will be meeting at the State Department to discuss key concepts and identify concrete steps toward developing and implementing prepare pro-transparency "action plans." Representatives of civil society groups in many of the countries, including OpenTheGovernment.org, will attend a post-conference debriefing Wednesday on what occurred during the day. The meeting is intended to pave the way for heads of state to participate in a summit on the sidelines of this year’s United Nations General Assembly.

 

 

 

 

 

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