Policy and News Updates for March 9, 2010



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

 

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. RSVP or Log-on for March 19th Sunshine Week 2010 Webcast

II. OpenTheGovernment.org Organizing Call for Hearings on Unlawful Destruction of DOJ Emails, Strengthening the FRA

III. OpenTheGovernment.org, Coalition Partners, Support Over-classification Measure

IV. Another OGD Milestone Passes

News from Coalition Partners & Others

 

 

CREW Asks DOJ to Investigate Destruction of Federal Records

On February 25, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to Attorney General Holder requesting he launch a criminal investigation into the destruction of email records of former Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) Deputy Assistant Attorneys General John Yoo and Jay Bybee. Under the Federal Records Act, federal agencies are required to establish a program for the creation and preservation of agency records that includes effective controls over the records’ use and safeguards against their removal or loss. The disappearance of the records was revealed in a footnote to the recently-released report by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) on the investigation into the OLC’s memoranda concerning issues relating to the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on suspected terrorists.

 

CPI Investigative Journalism Fundraiser in NYC on March 11

On Thursday, March 11 at the Bowery Hotel in New York City, the Center for Public Integrity will host a performance of Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers followed by a panel discussion on "Investigative Journalism, Then and Now." Proceeds benefit CPI’s investigative reporting work. Click here for more information.

 

Coalition Partners Support Reboot of the Office of Technology Assessment

Several coalition partners and OpenTheGovernment.org joined the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in requesting funding for the currently defunct Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). Funding for the office was eliminated in 1995 to save a little more than $20 million annually. Since then, the government has spent billions on new technologies that have not worked as promised. The letter points out the OTA would enable Members of Congress to more fully understand the advantages and implications of the science and technologies in which they are asked to invest.

 

I. RSVP or Log-on for March 19th Sunshine Week 2010 Webcast

Join OpenTheGovernment.org and leading experts on open government issues from inside and outside government on Friday, March 19 from noon to 2 pm eastern for the Sunshine Week 2010 Webcast, Building Transparency. In an effort to fulfill President Obama’s pledge to create an "unprecedented level of openness in Government," the Administration has issued an Open Government Directive and a new Memorandum on Freedom of Information Act and Attorney General Guidelines. The Administration has also launched an expansive effort to open up data to developers, advocates, and the public via Data.gov. During the webcast, the public will be able to interact with individuals intimately involved in implementing these policies and advocates who use government information to advance accountability. For a full list of panelists, download a program for the event here.

If you are in DC, you can reserve a seat for the live broadcast from the Center for American Progress by emailing Amy (Fuller) Bennett. Not in DC? Check our list of registered sites to see if there is a local event in your area, or simply use the URL available on our site to log-on the day of the event.

II. OpenTheGovernment.org Organizing Call for Hearings on Unlawful Destruction of DOJ Emails, Strengthening the FRA

OpenTheGovernment.org is organizing an effort to ask Information Policy Subcommittees in the Senate and House to hold hearings on the apparent destruction of emails in the Department of Justice to determine how the e-mails could be missing despite the requirements of the Federal Records Act (FRA), and if the FRA needs further strengthening. The disappearance of emails that are required to be saved under current law raises serious concerns about government transparency and whether information needed to hold the government accountable is being destroyed before officials, Congress and the public can have access to it. For a copy of the final letter, please check our homepage tomorrow afternoon (3/10).

 

III. OpenTheGovernment.org, Coalition Partners, Support Over-classification Measure

OpenTheGovernment.org and several partners sent a letter to Representative Jane Harman, Chair of the Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, supporting her amendment to the 2010 intelligence authorization bill to require the newly-established Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to prepare a report on over-classification. The amendment was approved. The report would be a first step toward curbing unnecessary and unwarranted secrecy that hinders information sharing, causes information to be inappropriately removed from public access, and causes the government to needlessly spend billions of taxpayer dollars protecting information that should never have been classified.

 

IV. Another OGD Milestone Passes

As we have described before, the Administration’s Open Government Directive lays out a specific timeline for agencies to take concrete actions that are intended to create a framework for open government, and for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide agencies with targeted guidance. Yesterday, Monday, March 8th, OMB was required to issue guidance to agencies on "a framework for how agencies can use challenges, prizes, and other incentive-backed strategies to find innovative or cost-effective solutions to improving open government." This guidance is in preparation for the scheduled release of agency open government plans on April 7th.

Don’t forget that you have until March 19 to provide feedback to participating agencies on what you would like to see in their open government plans! Visit the Open Government Tracker to see how agency participation sites are evolving, and link to each discussion.

 

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