Posts Tagged ‘federal spending’

FOI DAILY DOSE: N.J. phone records made more public, Kundra unveiled .gov task force, ACLU asked to return classified doc

N.J. court requires public officials to reveal cell phone call locations

Location, location, location.

That can’t stay secret when it comes to cell phone records, according to a New Jersey court ruling.

Public officials using taxpayer-funded cell phones must disclose the destination of the calls they make because such information is helpful to the public interest, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The court case, Livecchia v. Borough of Mount Arlington, arose after after the borough redacted the locations of calls made by public officials when it filled resident Gayle Ann Livecchia’s records request.

Livecchia and other citizens can use the phone call locations, which must now be disclosed, to find out whether government employees are improperly using their work cells.

Federal task force to evaluate gov websites

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra revealed the names of 17 people who will comprise a .gov task force that will slim down government websites and evaluate potential policy adjustments for running such Web properties in the future.

Those appointed include IT professionals from various federal offices, according to a Government Tech blog post.

This task force complements President Obama’s “Campaign to Cut Waste,” which aims to cut unnecessary expenditures.

This includes paring down the 2,000-plus federal URLs in use.

Here’s a list of 1,759 top Web domains for the executive branch, as well as a Q&A page on the project that includes a list of all task force members.

Gov demands ACLU return classified doc

The federal government wants a judge to order the American Civil Liberties Union to return a classified document that was released to the organization detailing how employees decide which Afghanistan detainees are Enduring Security Threats.

The ACLU must respond to the government’s court filings by July 29, according to the Washington Post’s Checkpoint Washington blog.

The ACLU wants to post the document, which it says was improperly classified, to its website.

The Pentagon gave the organization the document, along with several others, in compliance with a court order requiring their release. The ACLU notified the government about the Afghanistan detainee document on May 25.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).


FOI DAILY DOSE: Levee breaks may support Army Corps whistleblower claims, watchdog wants unified spending database

Levee issues show whistleblower may be right about Army Corps

Levee breaks on the Missouri River this week may support whistleblower Maria Garzino’s claims against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A Politico article this week noted a February letter from Garzino to the Obama administration explaining various Corps failures. She presents information detailing how New Orleans is still as vulnerable to Hurricane Katrina-level flooding now as it was in 2005.

She also explained that the Corps deceived Congress and the public about a project that led, partly through faulty testing techniques, to the installation of equipment that can’t properly protect New Orleans from flooding.

A film, “The Big Uneasy,” shows how Hurricane Katrina could have been avoided. It follows Garzino and scientific investigation team leaders as they explain the Corps’ failures that contributed to the problems.

Stimulus watchdog calls for unified coding system for fund reports

The federal government’s primary watchdog for stimulus spending spoke with lawmakers Tuesday, calling for an oversight database that tracks federal spending based not on agencies but on funding recipients’ reports.

Recovery and Transparency Accountability Board Chairman Earl Devaney also recommended using a unified coding system for federal spending data. A unified database would save time previously spent working through different systems when codes didn’t match.

The unified system could use a cloud computing data storage model.

Cloud computing outsources IT services like data storage to a remotely accessed shared platform. While a vendor maintains the applications running via the cloud, the agency can more easily handle other issues.

This model is used on the website and has saved time and money in the year since it was implemented, Devaney said.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).



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