Posts Tagged ‘petition’


FOI DAILY DOSE: Congress transparency act gets attention, editorial argues against petition to withdraw Obama’s open gov award

Congress transparency act draws interest in House

A bill that would make congressionally mandated reports more easily accessible is gaining attention in the House of Representatives.

The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, which would create a website with easily accessible electronic records of congressionally mandated reports, now has 10 co-sponsors. Its initial sponsor was Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill.

The transparency website would be updated with new reports by the Government Printing Office.

POGO editorial argues against withdrawing Obama’s transparency award

A petition is circulating that asks the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and other open government organizations to withdraw the transparency award they presented to President Obama in March.

The government crackdown on whistleblowers such as alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning and NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake (whose case was recently settled with a plea bargain) has led the petitioners to question the Obama administration’s commitment to open government.

Danielle Brian, POGO’s executive director, agreed with petitioners in a Tuesday blog post that transparency reforms are needed at the federal level.

But Brian also argued that the Obama administration overall has been a great supporter of open government, which is why POGO will not withdraw its support for the award.

The post also included comments from Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, explaining that Obama received the award because “he produced the best ever – hands down – orders for open government of any president in U.S. history, and he did so on his first day in office.”

Blanton also called for open government advocates to focus their energy on making a real difference in the fight for government transparency.

While POGO and Blanton stand by the transparency award given to Obama, they aren’t going to stop fighting for further open government reforms.

– 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: Sticking up for Drake, Nigeria FOI law to keep industry transparent

Public, WaPo stick up for whistleblower Thomas Drake

National Security Administration whistleblower Thomas Drake goes to court next week, but he isn’t without public support for his actions.

Drake is facing charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. According to prosecutors, he willfully retained classified documents that he had promised to protect.

Drake provided unclassified but important information to a Baltimore Sun reporter about wasteful spending and other problems in the NSA, which led to his indictment. He faces up to 35 years in prison.

The Washington Post published an editorial Sunday that echoed the concerns of various whistleblower supporters. The central question in the Drake case, at least for the WaPo editorial board, is whether the court case is an overkill response to Drake’s actions.

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) showed support for Drake on June 3, presenting a petition to Attorney General Eric Holder and the House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committees urging the Department of Justice to drop the case against Drake.

The petition has more than 4,600 signatures according to its Web page on Change.org.

Nigeria FOI law to strengthen transparency of extractive industry

The country’s new FOI law, recently signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, should boost transparency in the extractive industry.

The operations of the industry’s revenue collection agencies and oil companies can be very secretive, but there is a push toward open access that the new law can strengthen.

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) aims to improve openness among industry companies, especially with respect to their revenue disclosures. Its Executive Secretary, Zainab Ahmed, said the FOI act complemented the NEITI Act of 2007 that created the initiative.

With the implementation of the FOI law, as well as NEITI, Nigeria is moving forward with its goal of improving transparency throughout the nation – both in the government and in the economic sector as well.

– 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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