Policy and News Updates for December 16, 2008

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

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. OpenTheGovernment.org, National Taxpayers Union, Organize Coalition of 78 to Demand Bailout Transparency

II. SAVE THE DATE: Sunsine Week 2009 Webcast on Friday, March 20th

News from Coalition Partners & Others

Public Citizen Launches Public Interest FOIA Clinic

Public Citizen has set up an online resource that will help nonprofit organizations obtain federal government documents, the Public Interest FOIA Clinic. Through the site, public interest organizations can learn about the process by reading FOIA resources and can request a range of direct litigation assistance from initial advice about requesting documents to pro bono representation in litigating the denial of a request. The Clinic also collects and analyzes information about recent FOIA litigation conducted by public interest organizations to identify and address common FOIA problems.


Center for Public Integrity Releases the Broken Government Project

The Center for Public Integrity released The Broken Government Project, an examination of the worst systematic failures of the federal government over the past eight years. The report specifically discusses the Bush Administration’s excessive secrecy and looks at other controversial issues including the assertion of executive privilege, the use of signing statements, and the Vice President’s obligation to keep records.


CDT Releases Transition Papers on Promoting OpenGovernment, Other Internet Policies

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) submitted a series of transition papers to the Obama-Biden transition outlining Internet policy proposals for President-elect Obama’s Transition Team in the areas of security and civil liberties; preserving free speech on the Internet; keeping the Internet an open platform; protection of consumer privacy; and promoting open government. Read all of our coalition partner’s transition papers on increasing transparency and strengthening oversight here


Sunlight Foundation Helping Pew Make Subsidies Transparent

The Sunlight Foundation announced on Monday that they will be working with the Pew Charitable Trusts to make it easy for the press, policymakers, advocates and the public to track federal subsidies. As part of SubsidyScope, Sunlight will create an open-source searchable online database of federal subsidies, including a broad range of different types of subsidies such as direct payments made by government to businesses and individuals, tax breaks for corporations and individuals, and loan guarantees. The first elements of the database will not be available until the spring of 2009.


I. OpenTheGovernment.org, National Taxpayers Union, Organize Coalition of 78 to Demand Bailout Transparency

On December 8th, OpenTheGovernment.org and the National Taxpayers Union sent a letter signed by more than 75 good government advocates urging Congress to improve transparency and oversight of the financial bailout. The signatories, who span the ideological spectrum, ask that Congress use its oversight authority to make the financial bailout more accountable to the American public, and its legislative authority to make it more transparent. The breadth of support for the letter indicates that while there may be large differences of opinion on many issues related to the bailout, everyone agrees taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent. A copy of the letter can also be found on OpenTheGovernment.org’s Bailout Transparency Clearinghouse, a collection of resources and news you can use to track secrecy in the bailout.


II. SAVE THE DATE: Sunsine Week 2009 Webcast on Friday, March 20th

OpenTheGovernment.org’s fourth annual Sunshine Week webcast will be held on Friday, March 20th from 1 to 2:30 Eastern at the Center for American Progress. As in years past, the event will feature panels of experts from inside and outside government who will discuss federal openness policies and opportunities for people to use government information to make a difference in their communities. There will be opportunities for the wide audience to ask questions and the program will be followed by local programs at sites across the country.