Policy and News Updates for August 17, 2010



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

 

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. OpenTheGovernment.org, Partners, Address New SEC FOIA Exemptions

II. OpenTheGovernment.org and Partners Applaud White House Ethics and Government Reform Adviser

III. Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act Introduced in the House

News from Coalition Partners & Others

Center for Responsive Politics Offers New Tools to Track Political Influence

The Center for Responsive Politics announced upgrades to OpenSecrets.org that give users a fresh view of "the revolving door" movement of government or political employees into the field of lobbying. OpenSecrets.org combines publicly available information from several sources to provide users with an in-depth view of money in politics.

 

Sunlight Labs Launches Poligraft

The Sunlight Foundation’s Sunlight Labs recently launched Poligraft, a website and utility that creates an enhanced view of the people, organizations and relationships described within political news stories, blog posts and press releases. The data used by the site is provided by coalition partners the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute for Money in State Politics.

 

I. OpenTheGovernment.org, Partners, Address New SEC FOIA Exemptions

On August 3, OpenTheGovernment.org joined several coalition partners in sending a letter outlining concerns with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions in Section 929I of the recently passed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Dodd-Frank Act). The letter explains how, if interpreted broadly, the provisions could severely hinder the public’s ability to access critical information related to the oversight activities of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), thereby undermining the bill’s overarching goals of more transparency and accountability. Last week, OpenTheGovernment.org and 34 other organizations concerned with transparency and accountability – including several coalition partners – signed onto a letter in support of a bill introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Cornyn (R-TX), Kaufman (D-DE), and Grassley (R-IA), S. 3717. to strike the exemptions and clarify that FOIA exemption 8 applies to all entities regulated by the SEC. A similar letter has been sent in support of companion legislation introduced in the House by Representative Edolphus Towns, H.R. 6086.

 

II. OpenTheGovernment.org and Partners Applaud White House Ethics and Government Reform Advisor

On August 6, OpenTheGovernment.org and several good government organizations joined in sending a letter to President Obama applauding the work of Norman L. Eisen, Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, who has been nominated Ambassador to the Czech Republic. The letter also commends the President for elevating ethics, transparency and accountability issues as no President has before, and expresses the organizations’ desire to work with Mr. Eisen’s replacements, Bob Bauer and Steven Croley. According to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, "Mr. Eisen has done an incredible job of pushing forward the movement to increase government transparency and accountability within the Executive branch. We hope his replacements will move quickly to make sure Mr. Eisen’s efforts are furthered, and to demonstrate that the President’s commitments in this arena will be met fully.

 

III. Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act Introduced in the House

Representative Driehaus (D-OH) has introduced H.R. 6062, the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, a bill to require that any report issued to Congress and releasable under FOIA be posted on a website managed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The reports would be available no later than 30 days after their transmission to OMB, and would be searchable by a number of categories, including: the title of the report; the reporting agency; the statute or regulation requiring the report; the congressional committee receiving the report, if applicable; subject tags; and key words. The bill has been referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee; Committee Chairman Towns (D-NY) and Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee Chairman Clay (D-MO) are cosponsors of the bill.

 

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