Policy and News Updates for August 12, 2008


In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. Bill to Require Public Notification of Changes to Executive Orders Introduced in the Senate

II. OpenTheGovernment.org Joins Effort to Make Senate Campaign Contributions Available Online Before the Election

III. OpenTheGovernment.org Analyzes Legislation to Improve Information Sharing

News from Coalition Partners & Others

National Security Archive General Counsel Testifies at House Hearing on State Secrets Legislation

Meredith Fuchs, General Counsel at the National Security Archive testified on H.R. 5607, the State Secrets Protection Act of 2008. The testimony focused on the importance of judges conducting meaningful, independent judicial review into government secrecy claims. All witness testimony is available on the Judiciary Committee website here.

 

GAP Leads Win of Whisltleblower Protections in Final CPSC Reform Bill

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) applauded Congress for providing whistleblower rights to an estimated twenty million private sector workers in a sweeping Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reform bill. GAP led a coalition that swelled to 112 organizations demanding whistleblower rights in this reform.

Public interest organizations continue to fight for strong whistleblower protections for federal employees. To learn more about the campaign and to help visit Public Citizen’s Take Action Page.

 

Sunlight Foundation Releases Revised Congressional Transparency Legislation

The Sunlight Foundation released a revised version of its model transparency legislation that incorporates suggestions posted to PublicMarkup.org during the proposal’s public review period since March.

 

International Access to Information Resources

The Carter Center has posted the Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action and other material from the 2008 International Conference on the Right to Public Information.

Also check out FOIAnet for information about this year’s International Right to Know Day on September 28 and visit www.recognisemyright.info to find out how you can help with the effort to call on the Council of Europe to recognize a full right of access to information.

I. Bill to Require Public Notification of Changes to Executive Orders Introduced in the Senate

In response to an unreleased Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion that the President is under no Constitutional obligation to notify anyone of changes to Executive Orders, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Russ Feingold introduced S. 3405, Executive Order Integrity Act of 2008. The bill prohibits secret modifications and revocations of the law by requiring the President to place a notice of the change in the Federal Register.

 

II. OpenTheGovernment.org Joins Effort to Make Senate Campaign Contributions Available Online Before the Election

OpenTheGovernment.org has joined with the Sunlight Foundation and several other coalition members to help pass S.223, a bill to require candidates for the Senate to file reports electronically, free from any poison-bill amendments. Candidates for the House of Representatives and President have been filing contribution reports electronically for years, but the Senate still allows candidates to file paper reports with the Secretary of the Senate. After receiving the reports, the Secretary of the Senate delivers the reports in paper to the FEC, who then must input them into their computer databases to be accessed by the public online. As a result of the delay, donors can bundle contributions in the final, critical weeks of a campaign – providing the funds necessary for last minute negative attack ads or push polls – with absolute anonymity. We urge you to visit www.pass223.com to learn more about the campaign and to help the public find out where your Senators stand.

 

III. OpenTheGovernment.org Analyzes Legislation to Improve Information Sharing

In the run up to the August recess, the House of Representatives advanced four pieces of legislation intended to improve information sharing across the government and with the public. H.R. 6193, the Improving Public Access to Documents Act of 2008, directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reduce and standardize Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) designations; H.R. 6576, the Reducing Information Control Designations Act, directs the Archivist to develop a CUI framework for use across the government. Side-by-side analysis is available here. Similarly, H.R. 4806, the Reducing Over-Classification Act of 2008, applies to homeland security-related information, while H.R. 6575, the Over-Classification Reduction Act applies across the government. Side-by-side analysis is available here.

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