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NFOIC's latest white paper looks at enforcement of open records laws 

The National Freedom of Information Coalition is pleased to announce the publication of its latest white paper, “Blueprint to Transparency: Non-compliance and Lack of Enforcement of Open Records Laws in Select U.S. States.” The paper looks at the varying enforcement mechanisms by state governments, including criminal penalties, civil penalties and attorney fee-shifting.

NFOIC’s research reveals that oftentimes not much happens when government officials and agencies violate a state’s open records laws, which are intended to provide the public with accessible information from government. The paper outlines NFOIC’s seven recommendations for states that want to improve their open records enforcement policies and laws. (Read More)

NFOIC and Brechner Center 2020 Freedom of Information Paper Competition

Do you have research in freedom of information that will make a difference? Then submit your proposal to the National Freedom of Information Coalition’s research paper competition for presentation at the Sept. 24-26, 2020, National FOI Summit in Kansas City.

Top-three papers will earn cash prizes and the top three papers will be guaranteed publication in the online Journal of Civic Information, published by the University of Florida’s Brechner Center for Freedom of Information.

Authors are invited to submit a one-page paper proposal, which will be reviewed by a panel of freedom of information researchers. Proposals should include a one-paragraph abstract/summary, a paragraph outlining the proposed methodology, and a paragraph explaining the relevance of the potential findings for government agencies, FOI advocates, and access practitioners (e.g., journalists, citizens, record custodians). 

(Read More)
 

Congratulations to the states selected for RCFP's new Local Legal Initiative

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press announced that it will launch its Local Legal Initiative this year in Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, providing pro bono legal support to local journalists and news outlets throughout the states. Nearly all of the recipient state applications included NFOIC coalition members (Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, Freedom of Information Oklahoma, Open Oregon and the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government). More on the initiatives from RCFP:

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a large and diverse state, home to many collaborations, innovative journalistic endeavors and strong investigative reporting. With the state’s Right to Know Law only a decade old, there is substantial opportunity to create favorable case law for transparency, as well as to address the problems in the law. 

Oregon

Collaboration and content sharing among news organizations in Oregon is on the rise. There has also been a wave of enthusiasm for government transparency work after the state’s first Public Records Advocate resigned, citing political interference from the governor’s office. Before resigning, the official produced reports on the limitations on access to government information, which could serve as a valuable roadmap for an LLI attorney in the state.

Oklahoma

As Oklahoma news organizations find it more difficult to wage legal battles for access to government information, journalists in the state say public officials have become increasingly resistant to news media demands that they comply with open records and open meeting laws. The state also offers an opportunity to work with the Native American Journalists Association on barriers to reporting on and within Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized tribes.

Colorado

Unlike many jurisdictions, Colorado does not have an administrative appeals process or ombuds office, meaning public records requesters interested in challenging a denial must do so in court. In addition to the substantial legal need in Colorado, the state has many new and innovative reporting partnerships. And a new building in downtown Denver will soon house a number of diverse news organizations, including the Associated Press, several nonprofit newsrooms and the Colorado Media Project.

Tennessee

Tennessee offers strong partner support at the statewide level, as well as the opportunity to work with nonprofit and nontraditional news organizations focused on under-served populations in Memphis. There are many legal challenges facing local reporting in the state, including excessive delays in access to public records, challenges in access to body camera video and overly broad applications of law enforcement exemptions.
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National Freedom of Information Coalition

3208 Weimer Hall
PO Box 118400
University of Florida - College of Journalism and Communications
Gainesville, FL 32611

Office: 352-294-7082
General Email: nfoic@nfoic.org

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