The Advisory Committee on Transparency, a project of the Sunlight Foundation that was created to share ideas with members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, held a panel on October 1st. Jim Harper of the Cato Institute and the Sunlight Foundation's John Wonderlich, joined Hugh Halpern, the Staff Director of the House Committee on Rules, to discuss the successes and failures of Congress' initiatives to make the legislative branch more open, possible impediments to future progress, and what is on the openness horizon for the 113th Congress. A video of the panel will be available here.
The Society of American Archivists (SAA) and OpenTheGovernment.org joined the National Coalition for History to urge the governor of Georgia to keep the state archives open. The Georgia Archives are currently slated to close on November 1st, unless funding issues caused by the state's fiscal strain are resolved. SAA has compiled resources for taking action and letters of support for the Archives.
On September 27th, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) hosted its First Amendment Awards Dinner. During the event, one of RCFP's founders, Fred Graham, Politico correspondent Josh Gerstein, C-SPAN Executive Brian Lamb and Gannett Vice President Barbara Wall were lauded for their efforts to protect the first amendment and fight for government transparency.
@OpenTheGov is creating a catalog of great online media focused on open government issues, and will be sharing links to items every Friday at noon using the Twitter hashtag #LunchtimeListen. The inaugural #LunchtimeListen on September 21 featured a talk given by Martha Mendoza, an investigative reporter with the Associated Press, on how she uses the Freedom of Information Act to help her tells stories that uncover corruption and improve government policies for the public. Last week we highlighted a podcast from our friends at POGO looking at our recent 2012 Secrecy Report and other trends in government secrecy. Follow @OpenTheGov to catch the next video!
Yesterday marked the public opening of the highly-anticipated FOIA Portal. The project, which makes it easy for members of the public to make and track requests for government records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with assistance from the Department of Commerce and the National Archives and Records Administration's Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), launched with a new moniker – FOIAonline and with three new agencies participating: the Department of Treasury; the Merit Systems Protection Board; and the Federal Labor Relations Board.
Users can create an account to keep easily up with their FOIA requests. The service also lets users search across participating agencies for similar FOIA requests, and all documents released on the topic. Additionally, users can run reports to monitor the backlogs of participating agencies, their average processing time, and more over any time period. Learn more by viewing our infographic.