Tags : government

Kansas AG: Private emails on public topics protected

Kansas’ attorney general said Tuesday that emails sent by state employees through private accounts aren’t public record, even when they deal with public business.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt was responding to a question from state Sen. Anthony Hensley about whether such an email would constitute public record. Schmidt, who interpreted "private email" to be an email sent not only through a private account but also on a private device, replied: "In short, we think the answer is 'no.'"

Schmidt had already established in a different opinion that emails in the possession of public agencies are open records, his opinion ...

Read more ...

Parking permit data leads to stories, new reporting tool

Parking permit graphic by the Boston Globe

In dense cities like Boston, few topics are as contentious as parking. Everyone has a complaint. Everyone has a personal story about driving around aimlessly trying to find a space – especially in winter when snow gobbles up many of the available spots.

So some residents were understandably outraged after I reported in the Boston Globe that others appeared to be taking up more than their fair share of spots.

One wealthy couple in Boston’s South End had permission to park 11 cars on the street at a time, according to the city ...

Read more ...

Federal agencies fail FOIA test conducted by Syracuse University

If you report on the government, it may not surprise you to read that only seven of the 21 federal agencies recently FOIAed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) have provided records more than two months after the requests went out.

TRAC, a research center that administers the FOIA Project out of Syracuse University, has been trying to gather information on FOIA backlogs and processing times. In late January TRAC sent identical records requests to a group of federal agencies – including the CIA, FBI, Bureau of Prisons, several divisions of the Department of Justice and many others.

To ...

Read more ...

Tips for keeping an eye on public spending

By Kasia Kovacs 

TIPSHEET

View presentations from Joanna Lin and Cezary Podkul.

Journalists didn’t have to look far to prove that Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock was using taxpayer money to pay for surfing in Waikiki, parasailing in Argentina and renovating his office with Downtown Abbey flair.

All the reporters had to do? Check Schock’s Instagram account

The account was chock-full of selfies, some posing with celebrities like Ariana Grande, and others taken from the far corners of the world. According to the Washington Post, quite a bit of the funding for those trips came from campaign and taxpayer ...

Read more ...

OMB to release largest index of government data in the world

By Matt Rumsey, Sunlight Foundation

On Feb. 6, the Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the Sunlight Foundation explaining how it planned to comply with our FOIA request for Enterprise Data Inventories. These inventories are compiled by 24 federal agencies as part of President Barack Obama’s 2013 open data executive order.

The release, which we believe will represent the largest index of government data in the world, is not just important for open government advocates. It’s important for journalists, researchers and more.

President Obama has made opening government data a priority throughout his term, but ...

Read more ...

Job data, press releases used to measure effectiveness of North Carolina incentive programs

When the Great Recession reached its peak at the end of 2009, a lot of what you heard and read from news organizations about the state of the economy felt depressingly similar.

Long lines at unemployment offices. Big crowds at job fairs. And everywhere, mounting horror stories from families struggling harder than ever before to make ends meet.

Amid this pervasive gloom, some supposed bright spots popped up regularly in our inboxes, courtesy of the North Carolina governor’s press office.

New jobs, as few as six and as high as a 1,014, were on their way to the ...

Read more ...

Webinar to highlight new data set on campaign advertising

Got a big election on your horizon in 2016 or even 2015?

Join us for a free webinar Thursday and to get a sneak preview of an unprecedentedly detailed data set that the Internet Archive, the Sunlight Foundation and Philadelphia's Committee of Seventy compiled on political ads in Philadelphia this fall.

They’ll be releasing data linking ad spots to advertisers and the money behind them and showing you how it can be used to measure the intensity of a campaign, to identify the demographics being targeted by candidates and to out some of the mystery meat committees that ...

Read more ...

New York newspaper asks judge to force release of license plate data

The Democrat & Chronicle is fighting a county’s denial to provide license plate information about seven newspaper employees and a couple government-owned vehicles, the paper reports.

The Rochester, New York-based paper has reported that Monroe County is indiscriminately amassing license-plate information from high-speed cameras. During the summer, a reporter filed a Freedom of Information Law request to obtain the records about his own license plate and that of six colleagues and two government vehicles.

County officials denied the request because, they said, a release of the data could violate personal privacy or interfere with a law enforcement investigation. The paper ...

Read more ...

Judge lifts court order against Ala. newspaper

An Alabama judge has lifted a temporary restraining order banning the Montgomery Advertiser from publishing public documents it obtained from a gas company.

The newspaper had obtained, through an open records request to the state’s Public Service Commission, a copy of Alabama Gas Corp.’s Integrity Management Plan, which contained information about the age and condition of gas pipes in communities such as Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma.

Alagasco argued that publishing the location of the pipes raised the risk for terrorism. Judge Robert Vance originally agreed but, in lifting his restraining order, wrote that “while such possibilities might exist ...

Read more ...

Mississippi town could make text messages readily available

A town in Mississippi could soon become the first in the state to archive and make available the text messages of public officials, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. The pending policy comes in response to a Mississippi Ethic Commission ruling against Tupelo, after the city had denied the Daily Journal text messages between the mayor and another city official.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History laws already require that cities hold on to text messages. As local government records, the texts should be open to the public. But state officials have openly stated that municipalities don’t ...

Read more ...