Tags : public records

Michigan agencies estimate thousands of dollars for access to records

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration had preached transparency, according to the Lansing State Journal, but is charging exorbitant amounts for access to state contract records.

The Lansing State Journal sought contracts from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget, the repository for 1,200 contracts worth $32 billion between the state and outside vendors. The Journal filed a freedom of information request  to it, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the state lottery bureau for contracts. Reporter Kristen M. Daum now writes that Development Corp. officials estimated a cost of $1,7000 just to allow a reporter to review ...

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Civil Beat in Hawaii announces creation of new public records law center

Journalists from an online news service in Hawaii have started a public service law center to help citizen’s navigate the state’s open record laws.

Honolulu-based Civil Beat reports that Hawaii has decent public information laws, but in practice state and county government fail to follow and enforce the law. Patti Epler of Civil Beat describes the law as such:

“We've found that it's common for agencies to routinely reject — without good reason — requests for reports, documents and other information that should be readily available. They sometimes simply ignore legitimate inquiries from the press and the public ...

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MuckRock analysis finds 27 percent of FOIA requests still unfulfilled after three months

MuckRock, a public records service that files and tracks requests on behalf of journalists, researchers, activists and historians, recently analyzed 907 requests completed by its users. 

The analysis found about 42 percent of federal Freedom of Information Act requests were completed on time, and 27 percent of those 907 requests are still without a response after their first three months. MuckRock reports that many state and local agencies didn't fair much better by its measure.

Read the full report on the MuckRock blog ... 

Countries with longtime FOI laws have less corruption, better human development

The Center for Law and Democracy rates FOI law effectiveness by country.

Freedom of Information Act advocates have consistently claimed that institutionalizing the right to information will benefit countries, particularly in addressing corruption.

They are not lying.

By comparing indices on corruption, human development, and years of having an FOI law across 168 countries, I found support to the assumption that having an FOI law leads to lower levels of perceived corruption.

Also, countries with older FOI laws tend to have higher levels of human development than countries with younger FOI laws or countries without them.

An intriguing link, however ...

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FOIA Machine sees early success on Kickstarter

On July 16, a team of journalists and developers launched a Kickstarter campaign for a project called FOIA Machine. They asked for $17,500 to build a tool to help journalists and citizens request public information -- a “TurboTax for government records,” the team called it. Two days later, they passed that goal.

A week later, they doubled it. The project, originally sponsored by The Center for Investigative Reporting, had more than $35,000 -- $15,000 of which is matched by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri – from 1,131 backers.

Now, FOIA Machine has a ...

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California transit agency changes records policy in midst of investigation

inewsource out of San Diego reports that in the midst of an investigation into a local transportation agency, the North County Tranist District, the agency voted to adopt a policy change that would direct its employees to delete certain emails after 60 days, a drop from the previous email retention policy of two years.

Despite efforts from local media and a petition from inewsource that received 85 signatures in less than 24 hours, the agency voted unanimously yesterday to shorten its retention schedule.

Before the vote, Peter Scheer, the Executive Director of California’s nonprofit First Amendment Coalition, told inewsource ...

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Getting Past “No” when government pushes back

By Kathryn Sharkey

“How many people in here have filed federal information requests … and how many of you have been told no?”

The room, during the panel “Getting past ‘No’ when government pushes back” on Friday of the IRE Conference, was filled with raised hands and chuckles as Jack Gillum from the Associated Press got a feel for the room and said, “oh good, then this is the place for you.”

Gillum, Chicago Tribune reporter David Jackson and Davis Wright Tremaine attorney Angela Galloway, a former reporter, said the best way to get your Freedom of Information Act request seen ...

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Finalists announced for Golden Padlock award

Investigative Reporters and Editors has released the list of finalists for its inaugural Golden Padlock Award honoring a U.S. government agency for its unrelenting commitment to undermining the public's right to know.

  • JobsOhio: Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the state legislature are nominated for creating a non-profit economic development entity exempt from public records disclosure laws, despite its financing by state grants and bond sales backed by $100 million in profits from the state liquor store monopoly. JobsOhio was spun off from the state's Development Services Agency and staffed by former agency employees at much larger salaries ...
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