In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]
On May 3, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) filed an appeal to the Treasury Department’s decision to withhold basic facts concerning the discharge of the agency’s responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). One of the primary issues is the Treasury Department’s refusal to abide by the law by either providing the requested information or explaining why it is being withheld. Read TRAC’s press release here.
In late April, the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (U.S. PIRG) released Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data. The report evaluates states’ progress toward "Transparency 2.0" – a new standard of comprehensive, one-stop, one-click budget accountability and accessibility.
On May 7 and 8, the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) will hold its annual FOI Summit in Arlington, Virginia. The two-day event commences with registration and a reception at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 7, and continues on Saturday with a full afternoon of freedom of information gathering and sharing with a keynote address from Miriam M. Nisbet, director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). Scheduled panels include "Freedom of Information Litigation: The State of Advocacy" and "Transparency in the Digital Age: The report card, thus far."
On May 25 and 25, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and the Make it Safe Coalition on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The conference will feature a morning plenary session with our congressional allies, theme-based workshops led by prominent whistleblowers and good government organizations, a national security panel with star whistleblowers in the industry, street law update informational sessions, a meet and greet with the new appointees to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and U.S. Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board (ARB), and Lobby training and intensive lobbying appointments with congressional offices. To RSVP, please contact Becky Jones of GAP at SupportWhistleblowers@gmail.com.
"Limiting Knowledge in a Democracy," a Social Research Conference at The New School has been rescheduled for May 27. During the conference, which was cancelled due to a blizzard in late February, award-winning journalists, distinguished scholars, and policy makers will examine how the U.S. government and other political and cultural institutions distort or otherwise affect the flow of information. Find out more about the conference here, and sign-up to attend here
On May 3, OpenTheGovernment.org launched Evaluating Open Government, the "virtual home" of a project to evaluate federal agencies’ progress towards fulfilling President Obama’s commitment to "creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government." The contributors to this project, a group of volunteers with experience working with agencies and evaluating information policies drawn from nonprofit groups, academia, and other organizations that serve the public interest (including several coalition partners) kicked off this effort by conducting an audit of the Open Government Plans agencies were required to develop under the Open Government Directive (OGD) by April 7, 2010. Check out the results of the audit here. For individual agency evaluations, use the navigation bar on the left side of the site. Several agencies are already using feedback from the evaluations to revise and strengthen their plans. OpenTheGovernment.org looks forward to re-visiting these plans in June.
On April 30, Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, joined representative of coalition partners Daniel Schuman of the Sunlight Foundation and Scott Amey of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), and Jerry Brito of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University on a panel discussion during the inaugural event of the newly-created Transparency Caucus. The event also featured speeches by Co-chairs Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA). View video from the event here.
OpenTheGovernment.org organized a letter to the Secretary of Defense from more than a dozen public interest organizations and professional societies thanking him for promoting increased transparency in nuclear weapons policy. The letter points out that the Secretary’s decision to publish the Nuclear Posture Review Report in an entirely unclassified format and the disclosure of the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile may not resolve the continuing debate over the future of nuclear weapons policy, but it will enable it to proceed on a more informed basis. We look forward to further steps, including the Department’s Fundamental Classification Guidance Review as required by the President’s executive order 13526, which should help to eliminate other obsolete or unnecessary classification restrictions.