Policy and News Updates for July 15, 2008




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

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. Report on Government Secrecy Now Available for Purchase

II. OpenTheGovernment.org and 29 open government advocates endorse S. 2746, the OPEN FOIA Act

III. 24 Groups Join OpenTheGovernment.org in Support of H.R. 5811, the Electronic Message Preservation Act




News from Coalition Partners & Others

iSolon.org: New Academic Paper on Government Transparency

Jim Snider of iSolon.org has released an academic paper on government transparency through Harvard’s Shorenstein Center. The paper is titled “Would You Ask Turkeys To Mandate Thanksgiving?”. The first half of the paper, “The Dismal Politics of Legislative Transparency,” examines the extent to which legislators make information about their voting record accessible; the second half, “Using Citizens Assemblies to Reform the Process of Democratic Reform,” looks at case studies of from British Columbia and Ontario to evaluate the ability of citizen’s assemblies to hold political officials accountable to the public.

Common Cause Launches “Reclaim the Flag” Campaign


Common Cause launched the Recapture the Flag campaign. Individuals are encouraged to sign the citizen’s petition demanding a President that respects the rule of law and justice for all and a Congress that will stand up to abuses of Executive power, and to ask their candidates to sign the pledge to Reclaim the Flag.

The Sunlight Foundation Establishes “Let Our Congress Twitter”


In response to news of the possible revamping of rules governing internet usage by Members of Congress, the Sunlight Foundation established Let Our Congress Tweet. Users are asked to tell Congress to embrace the communication technologies, like Twitter, that are already already in use.

EPIC Wins Access to FTC Conflict of Interest Documents


The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) won access through FOIA to FTC documents chronicling when the FTC became aware of Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras’ conflict of interest in the Google-Doubleclick merger review. Majoras headed the Commission’s review of the proposed $3.1 billion Google acquisition while her spouse’s law firm represented Doubleclick. For more information, see EPIC’s page, EPIC vs. FTC.

I. Report on Government Secrecy Now Available for Purchase

Government Secrecy: Decisions Without Democracy 2007– an update of the 1987 publication is now available for purchase on the OpenTheGovernment.org homepage. In the report, OpenTheGovernment.org and People For the American Way Foundation document executive branch changes that expand power and diminish accountability.

II. OpenTheGovernment.org and 29 open government advocates endorse S. 2746, the OPEN FOIA Act

Twenty-nine organizations and open government advocates(including several coalition partners) joined OpenTheGovernment.org in writing to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to endorse S. 2746, the OPEN FOIA Act. The bill will give members of the public and open government advocates the tools they need to find, analyze and challenge FOIA exemptions that are tucked into inconspicuous provisions buried deep in proposed legislation. The Senate Judiciary Committee expects to mark-up the bill on July 17th.

Read the letter here.

III. 24 Groups Join OpenTheGovernment.org in Support of H.R. 5811, the Electronic Message Preservation Act


OpenTheGovernment.org and 24 groups (including many coalition partners) sent a letter to Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform , Henry Waxman, supporting passage of H.R. 5811, the Electronic Message Preservation Act. The bill directs the Archivist of the United States to establish standards for the capture, management, and preservation of White House e-mails and other electronic communications and to issue regulations requiring agencies to preserve electronic communications in an electronic format. Both the well-publicized White House email scandal and a recently released GAO Report that found agencies are inconsistent in preserving emails highlight the need for the legislation. The House passed the bill by a vote of 236-187; however, the bill still faces a murky future in the Senate and a definite veto threat by the President.

Read the letter here.

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