Policy and News Updates for June 1, 2010



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

 

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. OpenTheGovernment.org Organizes Support for Public Access to Oil Leak Monitoring Data

II. Open Forum on National Declassification Center’s Prioritization Plan Set for June 23

III. OpenTheGovernment.org Takes the FCW Challenge

News from Coalition Partners & Others

Public Citizen, Coalition Partners: No Personal Privacy Rights in Government Records for Corporations

OpenTheGovernment.org and other coalition partners joined Public Citizen on an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to grant review of and overturn a lower court decision holding that corporations may invoke "personal privacy" as a legal basis for claiming that embarrassing records should be withheld from public view. Unless the Supreme Court takes the case and reverses the Third Circuit decision, records about safety violations at a coal mine, environmental problems at an offshore oil rig, filthy conditions at a food manufacturing plant, financial shenanigans at an investment bank and many other records like these may be the subject of so-called corporate privacy claims that could result in agencies withholding those records from the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Other coalition partners on the amicus brief include Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the National Security Archive, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

 

I. OpenTheGovernment.org Organizes Support for Public Access to Oil Leak Monitoring Data

Almost 40 organizations and academics joined OpenTheGovernment.org in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to give the public access to all monitoring data related to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. We are pleased the Administration is currently making much of the data it is collecting available for public scrutiny. Assured public access to the data the government is, and will be, collecting is of great national interest and concern to the public. The data sets are crucial for scientists and the public to understand the extent of the problem and its future implications, and to plan for how to help the area recover and thrive. The letter stresses stresses that the Administration should affirmatively disclose all monitoring data of the leak, in the interest of meeting the President’s commitment on his first full day in office to "disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use," and his Administration’s subsequent statements, policies and directives encouraging the executive branch to give the public prompt access to information that is not required to be withheld, even if there are permissive exemptions, the Administration should affirmatively disclose all monitoring data of the leak.

 

II. Open Forum on National Declassification Center’s Prioritization Plan Set for June 23

On May 26, the newly-established National Declassification Center (NDC) released a draft Prioritization Plan that will serve as a roadmap for the NDC to declassify and process for release Federal records and Presidential materials in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The draft emphasizes that the NDC will make extensive use of social media and traditional town halls to gather public input on prioritization. On Friday, June 4, at 1:00 (EDT) Dr. Michael Kurtz will be hosting a telephone conference. He will provide an update on the NDC as well as discuss the draft plan. To participate call 1-800-516-9896 and when prompted, join conference #40197. The first opportunity to comment on the plan in person will be at NARA’s Washington DC location on Wednesday, June 23 during a public forum moderated by the Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero. Learn more about the forum, and register to attend here.

 

III. OpenTheGovernment.org Takes the FCW Challenge

OpenTheGovernment.org is participating in the FCW Challenge, a joint venture of Federal Computer Week (FCW) and GovLoop to generate discussion on major areas of Gov 2.0 policy and practice. On the topic of open government plans, the FCW Challenge asks readers to respond to the following statement: "The first drafts of agencies’ open-government plans are Twinkies. You can put them on the shelf and they will last forever, but no one’s going to eat them." Read our response refuting that supposition here. Submit your own response by going to www.fcw.com/fcwchallenge to post your comments on any or all of the questions, or go to GovLoop and write a blog post or participate in a discussion group. GovLoop and FCW teams will select the best user submissions for publication in the FCW’s June 14 print edition.

 

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