Policy and News Update for November 1, 2011 – In Brief

A full Policy and News Update will be back in your inbox on Tuesday, November 15. In the meantime, see below for highlights:

From our Coalition Partners and Others

  • Help the Sunlight Foundation call for super open super committee – The Sunlight Foundation has pulled together a number of ways you can help call on the Super Committee, a special committee created to offer recommendations on how to reduce the national deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next ten years, to be as open as possible.
  • International Right-to-Know Day event videos available – The September 28th event hosted by the Washington College of Law’s Collaboration on Government Secrecy includes presentations by representatives our coalition partners Project On Government Oversight, OMB Watch, and the National Security Archive. OpenTheGovernment.org’s Director, Patrice McDermott, who sits on the Collaboration’s Advisory Board along with representatives of several of our coalition partners and other allies, also moderates a panel. View the event’s agenda here.
  • Union of Concerned Scientists’ to host conference, "FDA at a Crossroads," – During the November 15th conference in Washington, DC, expert panelists will explore, among other topics, how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can better promote a culture of transparency and scientific integrity, protect the rights of scientists and whistleblowers, and limit political and corporate interference in agency policy decisions.

From our Website

  • ACLU, CREW and OpenTheGov oppose proposed FOIA rule that would allow agencies to lie about the existence of records – According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the provision is intended to permit the government to avoid confirming the existence of certain law enforcement records and information on other sensitive national security investigations that would be responsive to a FOIA request when the mere confirmation that such records exist would damage ongoing investigations or reveal sensitive information the government is lawfully entitled to keep secret under FOIA.
    We argue that the proposed rule is unnecessary and will dramatically undermine government integrity by allowing a law designed to provide public access to government information to be twisted to permit federal law enforcement agencies to actively lie to the American people. Read coverage of the issue by ProPublica and Mother Jones.
  • EFF, ARL and OpenTheGov urge government to make all parts of the law easily available – Fundamental principles of American democracy dictate that “citizens must have free access to the laws which govern them.” When an agency incorporates copyrighted material into its regulations (by referring to but not linking to them, i.e. "Incorporation by Reference"), public access to that material may be significantly compromised. Without agency policies that foster broad availability, incorporation of copyrighted materials permits copyright holders to serve as gatekeepers of public access to federal law.
    While the recommendations of the ACUS draft Report on “Incorporation by Reference in Federal Regulations” attempt to balance the scales of access to the law and encouragement of private standards development, the recommendations tip the balance too far in the wrong direction. We recommend the government promote and endorse access to, and innovative uses of, regulatory standards.

Always keep up with our work to make the federal government more open and accountable by visiting our website. You can always keep up with the latest from us and our partners by following us on twitter.

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