Policy and News Updates for July 28, 2009

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. Become a Fan, Follow, OpenTheGovernment.org on Facebook

II. NARA Calls for Comments on Strategic Plan

III. Open Government Initiative Opens for Comments on Federal Website Cookie Policy, Provides Summary of Declassification Policy Comments

News from Coalition Partners & Others


ABFFE President Lauded as Change Maker

Publishers Weekly recently profiled Chris Finan, the President of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFEE). Under the heading, "Change Maker," the profile discusses his commitment to fighting censorship and his leadership in the field.


Center for Public Integrity Reports on State of Homeland Security Oversight

The Center for Public Integrity has teamed up with the Center for Investigative Reporting to investigate the effectiveness of America’s homeland security efforts. The first in the series of reports, planned to be published over the space of two months, is titled " Is Congress Failing on Homeland Security Oversight? Despite Calls for Consolidation, over 80 Hill Panels Still Have a Say."


PEN American Center Joins Suit over FISA

On July 22, the PEN American Center joined the American Civil Liberties Union in court to challenge the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act, which greatly expanded the ability of the U.S. government to spy on Americans without a warrant. Read Larry Siems’, Director of the PEN American Center’s Freedom to Write program, explanation for the suit here.


I. Become a Fan, Follow, OpenTheGovernment.org on Facebook

OpenTheGovernment.org is now on facebook! Become a fan today to show your support for advancing the public’s right-to-know and reducing government secrecy. We also post our reports and updates on the page, making it easy for you to get the latest news on transparency-related issues. Please join us today!


II. NARA Calls for Comments on Strategic Plan

Last week the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) welcomed public comments on their Draft 2009 Strategic Report. The document, a required update to NARA’s 2006-2016 Strategic Plan, does devote significantly more attention to records management issues than in earlier versions of the report. In recent Congressional testimony, OpenTheGovernment.org’s Director, Patrice McDermott, pointed out that the pre-update version had "a total of 1.5 pages on records administration and one vague strategy for electronic records management." Comments on the draft can be sent to NARA via e-mail toor by fax (301) 837-0319; the deadline for comments is by August 5, 2009.


III. Administration Opens for Comments on Federal Website Cookie Policy, Provides Summary of Declassification Policy Comments

In the last week the Administration has used the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s OSTP blog to ask for public comments on the federal government’s website cookies policy. The request comes in response to informal comments received during the Open Government Directive process and has also been posted in the Federal Register. The OSTP posting both links to current policy, and outlines OMB’s current thinking on revisions to the policy. Comments on the approach can be posted on the blog entry, submitted directly in response to the Federal Register notice, or emailed to: oira_submission@omb.eop.gov.

On Monday, the Administration officially wrapped up the Declassification Policy Forum, which was also hosted on the OSTP blog, by posting a copy of a letter and summary of public recommendations sent to the National Security Advisor. Given the importance of the issue to public access of information and the Administration’s stated commitment to open, participatory, and collaborative government, we join the Public Interest Declassification Board in urging the National Security Advisor to seek public input on a final draft of the Executive Order before it is signed by the President.