Policy and News Updates for January 25, 2011



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

 

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. 2011 Sunshine Week Webcast to be Broadcast on March 18

II. Supreme Court Hears FOIA Case on "Personal Privacy" for Corporations

News from Coalition Partners & Others

POGO Criticizes SEC Transparency, Makes Investigative Reports Available

POGO, the Project On Government Oversight, issued a press release last week highlighting previously unpublished investigative reports exposing a wide range of serious misconduct at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). POGO, which obtained many of the investigative reports by the SEC Office of Inspector General (OIG) through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and from other sources, has set up a webpage to make the reports available to the public.

 

GAP Solicits Help Identifying Senator Who Placed the Secret Hold on Whistleblower Bill

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is working with On the Media to identify the Senator who placed a secret hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act in the last days of the 111th Congress. The groups are recruiting help from people from across the country to ask each Senator if they are responsible for the hold. Learn more about how to help out here.

AALL Government Relations Director to be New Superintendent of Documents at GPO

Mary Alice Baish, the Government Relations Director for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), and a founding member of OpenTheGovernment.org’s Steering Committee, has been named Assistant Public Printer, Superintendent of Documents, for the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). This position is the agency’s lead in guaranteeing permanent public access to Government information published by the three branches of the Federal Government.

 

I. 2011 Sunshine Week Webcast to be Broadcast on March 18

OpenTheGovernment.org’s 2011 Sunshine Week Webcast will be broadcast on Friday, March 18 from noon to 1:30 (eastern) from the Center for American Progress. The theme for this year’s webcast is "The Road Ahead for Open Government." Our panelists will discuss what we can expect, and what open government advocates would like, going forward from the Administrations’ open government initiatives in terms of policy and technology. As in years past, we are working with our partners to recruit host sites across the county where people can watch the webcast together and then discuss local issues of open government. To find out more about the webcast, or for information on how to set up a host site, email Amy Bennett or call us at 202-332-6736.

The webcast will cap off the national celebration of Sunshine Week, an initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of the public’s right to know what its government is doing, and why. The celebration coincides with National Freedom of Information (FOI) Day and James Madison’s birthday on March 16.

 

II. Supreme Court Hears FOIA Case on "Personal Privacy" for Corporations

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral argument in FCC v. AT&T, a case testing the claim that corporations are due "personal privacy" rights under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). OpenTheGovernment.org and several of our coalition partners have weighed in opposing AT&T’s position. The majority of the questioning indicated the Justices are likely to rule against corporate interests. A ruling is expected in late June.

In one troubling exchange, Assistant Solicitor General Anthony M. Yang, representing the FCC, disagreed that the exemptions in the FOIA are to be construed narrowly, putting the government at odds with longstanding Supreme Court precedent, and conflicting directly with the FOIA policy directive issued by President Obama. Advocates will be reaching out to the Administration in the coming days to express profound disappointment in this position.

 

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