Policy and News Updates for August 3, 2010



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

 

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. DOJ Releases Chief FOIA Report Summary and Guidance

II. House Subcommittee Explores Federal Record Keeping in the Web 2.0 Environment

III. Senate Committee Passes Earmark Transparency Act

News from Coalition Partners & Others

Director of the National Security Archive Discusses Wikileaks

On July 27, Tom Blanton, the Director of the National Security Archive, made a guest appearance on in a segment called "That’s the Way I Leak It" on The Colbert Report to discuss the release of over 90,000 Secret documents on the war in Afghanistan by the website Wikileaks. Earlier in the week, Mr. Blanton also discussed the implications of the leak with Washington radio talk show host Kojo Nnamdi (WAMU 88.5 FM).

 

WCOG to Honor Transparency in Government Leaders

Last week the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) announced that in September they will honor the 2010 Madison/Andersen Award Winners. The Madison Award is given to an individual or organization whose long term commitment to the cause of open government has been demonstrated through exemplary words or deeds; the Andersen award is given to an individual or organization that has done something extraordinary to advance the efforts of WCOG.

 

I. DOJ Releases Chief FOIA Report Summary and Guidance for Improvement

Last week the Department of Justice, Office of Information Policy (OIP) released a Summary of Chief FOIA Officers Reports and Guidance for Improvement. The reports, submitted for the first time this spring, were required by Attorney General Holder’s FOIA Guidelines issued on March 19, 2009. In September 2009, OIP issued guidelines to agencies asking the reports include descriptions of the steps agencies have taken to achieve greater transparency in five distinct areas: 1) the presumption of openness; 2) effective systems for responding to requests; 3) proactive disclosures; 4) use of technology; and 5) backlog reduction. Included in the new report is a summary of OIP’s findings and guidance to agencies on the next steps that should be taken so that even greater transparency can be achieved in the year ahead.

 

II. House Subcommittee Explores Federal Record Keeping in the Web 2.0 Environment

On July 21, the House Committee on Oversight Government Reform Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee held a hearing to explore the implications of the use of web 2.0 by federal agencies. During the hearing, the Committee heard testimony from the GAO outlining the growing use of social media sites by federal agencies in the face of a continued absence of policies to manage and preserve the information. According to testimony from the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will release updated guidance to agencies on how Web 2.0 platforms affect federal records management requirements. View the whole hearing, and download testimony here.

 

III. Senate Committee Passes Earmark Transparency Act

On July 28 the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee recommended S. 3335, the Earmark Transparency Act, to the full Senate. The bill requires the Clerk of the House of Representatives, in coordination with the Secretary of the Senate, to insure the existence of a single searchable, sortable database of earmark requests. Currently, earmark requests are posted on individual Members’ websites. By centralizing all earmark requests in a single database, the bill vastly improves the way in which information about earmarks is disclosed. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House, but has not been taken up by any committees.

 

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