Access to Gov't Information

Bush Refuses to Fund New FOIA Ombudsman, Takes the Heart Out of Open Government Reform Law

Well, that was quick. Mere weeks after signing the "OPEN Government Act of 2007" on December 31, 2007, which significantly reformed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), President Bush is now attempting to cut out the heart of the OPEN Government Act by refusing to fund the newly created FOIA ombudsman's office.

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Fernando Rodrigues Discusses Access to Public Information in Brazil

Today at the Berkman Center, Fernando Rodrigues, a journalist from Brazil who is currently a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, spoke about "Journalism and Public Information in Brazil." In 2002, Rodrigues launched "Políticos do Brasil," a website that contains approximately 25,000 records of Brazilian politicians showing electoral information

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Bush Signs FOIA Reform Bill; New Definition of News Media Will Benefit Bloggers and Non-Traditional Journalists

In one of his last executive actions of the year, President Bush signed into law the "OPEN Government Act of 2007" on December 31, 2007. The Senate unanimously passed the reform bill earlier in December, and it passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on December 18. The Associated Press is reporting that Bush signed the bill without comment.

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Congress Passes FOIA Reform Bill, Expands Definition of "News Media"

Earlier this week, Congress passed a bill that substantially reforms the Freedom of Information Act and expands the definition of who is a "representative of the news media" under the Act. The bill, entitled the "Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act" or, more succinctly, the "OPEN Government Act of 2007," passed unanimously in the Senate last week and cleared the House of Representatives by voice vote on Tuesday.

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Florida Governor Announces New Initiatives For Open Government

Florida Governor Charlie Crist recently announced two new open government initiatives that will go a long way in improving public access to government documents and meetings in Florida.

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1.8 Million Steps Forward in the Direction of a Comprehensive Public Case Law Archive

Public.Resource.Org and Fastcase, Inc. announced this week that they will make 1.8 million pages of federal case law, including all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754, available in a free public archive. The entire archive will be in the public domain and usable by anyone for any purpose.

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Assessment of California's Open Government Reform Initiatives for 2007

Last week, the California First Amendment Coalition published an assessment of several open government reform bills in California's 2007 legislative session. The report shows that while there were some victories, several important reform proposals failed in the legislature or died on the Governor's desk.

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Leveraging FOIA: Websites Shine a Bright Light on Government Records

Two new websites recently launched that give the public unprecedented access to government documents acquired through the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other public disclosure, or "sunshine," laws: GovernmentDocs.org and GovernmentAttic.org.

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Update on Phoenix New Times Case

As mentioned in our previous post on the Phoenix New Times arrests, two Phoenix-area news organizations filed a motion on October 19 requesting the Arizona Superior Court to publicly release documents related to the New Times grand jury investigation, presumably including the subpoena that caused all the ruckus.

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