Policy and News Updates for August 11, 2009


News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. OpenTheGovernment.org, Coalition Partners, Urge Administration to Involve Public In Executive Order Revision

II. Help OpenTheGovernment.org, Partners, Evaluate Administration’s Open Government Process

III. Senate Committee Passes Whistleblower Protection Act

IV. Data from Open Government Initiative Public Consultation Process Released
 

News from Coalition Partners & Others

 

Good Jobs First Releases Report Evaluating State Recovery Sites

Good Jobs First recently released An Evaluation of State Government Recovery Act Websites. The report examines the quality and quantity of disclosure by official state websites on the many ways recovery act funding is flowing through state governments to communities, organizations and individuals, and provides recommendations for states to improve their sites.

 

Center for Public Integrity Wins Innovation Awards

The Center for Public Integrity has been honored with a Knight-Batten Special Distinction Award and recognized for Outstanding Online Reporting by the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). In addition to this recognition from their journalism peers, work by the Center has recently been cited in newspapers and broadcasts in 40 states, linked to by thousands of websites and blogs, featured in publications around the world, and even read into the Congressional Record.

 

I. OpenTheGovernment.org, Coalition Partners, Urge Administration to Involve Public In Executive Order Revision

On August 1, OpenTheGovernment.org, several coalition partners, and other open government advocates, sent a letter to National Security Advisor General James L. Jones asking the Administration release for public comment the exact revision language of Executive Order 12958, as amended, "Classified National Security Information," prior to its being presented to the President for final consideration. We commend the effort to gather public input on the revision using the National Declassification Forum and public meetings by the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB). However, the opportunity to comment on how that input is translated into policy is the true measure of transparency, participation,and collaboration promised by the President.

 

II. Help OpenTheGovernment.org, Partners, Evaluate Administration’s Open Government Process

OpenTheGovernment.org is working with several organizations to evaluate the Obama Administration’s process for engaging the public on the Open Government Directive (OGD) and reccomend how it can be improved for future efforts to engage the public in policy-making. The organizations have set up a survey to collect public feedback on the process and gather suggestions for improvements. We encourage everyone who participated in the process to fill out this short survey.

 

III. Senate Committee Passes Whistleblower Protection Act

Prior to the August recess, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) approved S. 372, a bill to overhaul the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). A similar bill, H.R. 1507, has been introduced in the House, but has not yet been taken up by Committee. While we are pleased to see the bill already moving through the legislative process, there are many aspects of the legislation that must be addressed before final passage: most significantly, provisions granting jury trials in federal district court to enforce paper rights and extending coverage for national security employees are crucial to make sure the final legislation truly protects employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse.

 

IV. Data from Open Government Initiative Public Consultation Process Released

On Monday, August 10 the Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) posted an announcement, on the OSTP Blog that data from all three phases of the Open Government Initiative public consultation is now available for download. OSTP had previously released comments on the open government policy gathered from government employees. As pointed out by open government advocates, including OpenTheGovernment.org, OMB Watch and several coalition partners, in a letter released in May, such information will "be helpful in understanding the positions held within and outside the government, and better identify problems and solutions in a collaborative fashion." The letter also notes that "the administration’s new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidance encourages such records to be affirmatively disclosed on a discretionary basis."

 

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