Posts Tagged ‘OMB Watch’


FOI DAILY DOSE: DATA Act ready for next step, Illinois launches data site

Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2011 to go to House floor

After getting approval from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Wednesday, the DATA Act’s next step is to go to the House floor.

The bill would create a Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board with authority over federal spending. The board would assume control over USAspending.gov from the Office of Management and Budget.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who introduced the DATA Act, is also involved with President Obama’s June 13 executive order that established a Government Accountability and Transparency Board headed by Vice President Joe Biden.

The bill, if passed, has an expiration date. All provisions will expire in seven years unless Congress reauthorizes it.

The DATA Act would also repeal the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which created USASpending.gov. It would overhaul the FFATA system, which depends on agencies to report spending information, and would instead get spending reports from federal fund recipients.

Check out this OMB Watch blog post that analyzes the potential effects of the bill.

Illinois launches government data clearinghouse website

The State of Illinois launched a website Tuesday that compiles searchable information from state departments and aims to give citizens a clearer picture of government operations.

The  State of Illinois Open Data website will also encourage people to use state government information. The creation of mobile device applications that could use the data is one potential method for taking the information the website is providing and putting it to good use.

The Illinois Innovation Council, which focuses on promoting innovative economic initiatives, is responsible for the website.

While the ultimate goal is for the website to eventually become a clearinghouse for information from all Illinois agencies, for now it includes data from only a few departments.

– Morgan Watkins

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

FOI DAILY DOSE: 2012 spending bill’s open gov effects, RCFP involved in Ohio real estate records case

2012 spending bill includes boons, obstacles for transparency

The House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations subcommittee approved its spending measure for the 2012 fiscal year Thursday.

The bill shifts the Electronic Government Fund into the General Service Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, which handles government IT work such as the management of USA.gov.

The E-Gov Fund supports open government websites like Data.gov, and the bill would give OCSIT $50 million for the 2012 fiscal year. This is a $7.8 million increase from the 2011 funding for both OCSIT and the E-Gov Fund, but it is $20.5 million less than their combined budgets in the 2010 fiscal year.

The bill would also forbid the Consumer Product Safety Commission from spending money on its consumer product safety database, which it was required to create after a 2008 law responding to several major product recalls.

This could make it easier to conceal safety risks in consumer products, according to OMB Watch.

The legislation would also forbid agencies from spending money to implement President Obama’s draft executive order that, if he signs it, would make potential federal contractors disclose political contributions to bid on contracts.

The bill is scheduled for markup by the full House Appropriations Committee on June 23.

RCFP calls for Ohio county to stop overcharging for records

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a friend-of-the-court brief encouraging the Ohio Supreme Court to reject Cuyahoga County’s high copy fees for electronic real estate records.

The county has a $2 per page fee for the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s services when filling electronic records requests for real estate data. The RCFP brief argues that this requirement conflicts with state law and, if upheld by the court, could later become the normal fee structure for other Ohio recorders.

Charging such high fees (prices for some requests could hit the six-figure range) for copying real estate records onto a CD-ROM is unacceptable, RCFP Executive Director Lucy Dalglish said in a press release.

The resources used for an employee to physically photocopy pages versus copying them onto a CD aren’t comparable, and fees should reflect the actual cost of reproducing records, according to Dalglish.

Cuyahoga seems to be the only Ohio county where the Recorder requires such high fees for real estate records.

– Morgan Watkins

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

FOI DAILY DOSE: Open gov orgs push for money for E-Gov Fund, ACLU sues for WikiLeaks-released U.S. cables

Transparency groups call on Congress to restore open gov funding

Accountability group OMB Watch released a letter Monday that urged Congress to consider restoring funding for the Electronic Government Fund, or E-Gov Fund.

More than 30 open government groups signed the letter.

The E-Gov Fund supports government websites like USAspending.gov and Data.gov and bolsters transparency initiatives.

The 2011 fiscal year budget deal cut the fund’s financial support from $34 million to $8 million.

The House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee is scheduled to mark up a bill for the 2012 fiscal year on June 16, which will include information on the E-Gov Fund’s budget.

The letter requests that the subcommittee consider restoring funding for the E-Gov Fund in the measure.

ACLU sues for declassification of U.S. diplomatic cables

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the U.S. State Department in an attempt to force the declassification of embassy cables already released by WikiLeaks.

The ACLU’s April FOIA request for 23 cables already released by the website was ignored. Thus, the lawsuit.

WikiLeaks support group plans pro-Manning protest

A Boston-based group called Civic Counsel plans to hold a protest Wednesday opposing the treatment of Bradley Manning and the grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks.

It will be held in Boston on the day activist and Bradley Manning supporter David House is to appear in court due to a grand jury subpoena.

Manning is accused of leaking U.S. diplomatic cables and other information to WikiLeaks in 2010.

– Morgan Watkins

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

FOI DAILY DOSE: WikiLeaks founder wins journalism award, EPA oversight threatened

Julian Assange wins journalism award

WikiLeaks founder and head honcho Julian Assange has won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

The annual award is presented to a journalist who has “told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda.”

The 2011 judges said in their citation for the prize that Assange “represents that which journalists once prided themselves in – he’s brave, determined, independent: a true agent of people not power.”

WikiLeaks has become a point of controversy in discussions of transparency, especially concerning the criminal charges against alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning.

The six judges voted unanimously for Assange.

House bill jeopardizes EPA oversight

A House bill introduced last week supports the removal of federal oversight from the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 would strip the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to revise state water quality standards, veto U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredge and fill permits and oppose state-approved permits issued under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

The measure was introduced by representatives John Mica (R-FL) and Nick Rahall (D-WV).

Mica, in a press release, said that the EPA “continues to strangle economic growth in this country with its overreaching and arbitrary regulatory regime.”

According to an OMB Watch blog post, however, the agency is following statutory mandates and is not overstepping its bounds.

– Morgan Watkins

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

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