Policy and News Updates for November 9, 2010

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


News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. Open Government Advocates Welcome New Limits on Information Markings

II. Advocates, Academics Join OpenTheGovernment.org in Urging Release of ATF Data

III. OpenTheGovernment.org Joins Effort to Allow Cameras in Supreme Court

News from Coalition Partners & Others

EPIC Publishes 2010 Open Government Litigation Manual

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has issued the twenty-fifth edition of the organization’s "Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws." The book, which is published by EPIC in cooperation with Access Reports and the James Madison Project, includes in-depth analysis of litigation under: the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); Privacy Act; Federal Advisory Committee Act; and Government in the Sunshine Act. Order a copy here.


SAA Launches "Found It in the Archives!"

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) recently launched a public education campaign that encourages archives users to tell their stories of discovery. SAA has produced a kit outlining how to set up local contests to choose winners to compete in the "national finals" next year.


I. Open Government Advocates Welcome New Limits on Information Markings

On November 4, the Obama Administration released a new Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) policy rescinding the Bush Administration’s Executive Order and standardizing and limiting the use of control markings on unclassified information. The new policy contains specific improvements over the Bush EO and earlier drafts that will improve information sharing without fostering secrecy. The improvements include:

    • making clear that no marking has bearing on the decision to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), nor on disclosure to the legislative or judicial branches of the U.S. government
    • requiring public consultation on the implementation of the new framework, which will increase public visibility into the process
    • barring the using of designations like FOUO (For Official Use Only) and SBU (Sensitive But Unclassified) that are not based in either statute or regulation, but are created by "agency policy"

The new policy also does not create a previously-proposed system of sanctions, which could have impeded needed sharing and led to repercussions outside current law for whistleblowers. According to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, "The Bush policy and earlier drafts could have created a fourth level of classification. Instead, this Order is a victory for openness, for both our community and the Administration. We applaud the Administration for the time, effort, and thoughtful consideration of input from inside and outside government it took to make this the outcome."

Read OpenTheGovernment.org’s press release here.


II. Advocates, Academics, Join OpenTheGovernment.org in Urging Release of ATF Data

Last week, a dozen organizations, including OpenTheGovernment.org and some of our partners, and three academics in sending a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding a serious discrepancy in DOJ’s treatment of requests for data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that is at odds with both the governing law and the Attorney General’s stated commitment to improving meaningful openness in DOJ and the government at large. The letter also requests that the released data and additional information be posted as High Value Data and regularly updated on www.Data.gov.


III. OpenTheGovernment.org Joins Effort to Allow Cameras in Supreme Court

Almost 3 dozen organization, including OpenTheGovernment.org and several coalition partners, joined with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a letter urging the Senate to support S. 446, a bipartisan bill to permit broadcast television coverage of open Supreme Court proceedings, while respecting all rights to due process. You can join the effort to open the Supreme Court by using the ACLU’s action alert to send an email to your Senator urging him or her to support the bill and to urge Majority Leader Reid to bring S. 446 up for a vote in the remaining days of the 111th Congress.


Categories: Uncategorized