FOI Notes: Open Data, UK, Philippines, US, Funding

11 December 2014

Open Data: A new report from Open Knowledge documents the growth in the availability of government data. The UK tops the 2014 Index again, closely followed by Denmark and then France at number 3 up from 12th last year. “Overall, whilst there is meaningful improvement in the number of open datasets (from 87 to 105), the percentage of open datasets across all the surveyed countries remained low at only 11%.”

Funding: The Omidyar Network announces grants totaling as much as $9.732 million to 15 transparency and accountability organizations in seven countries.

Africa/World Bank: The World Bank has given a $650,000 grant to Africa Freedom of Information Center (AFIC) to build the capacity of the public to monitor the execution of public contracts and projects, according to a news report.

Philippines: A column by Luis V. Teodoro reviews the legislative situation, observing that “not everyone’s breaking out the champagne.”

Transparency Research: A blog post summarizes research from the University of Manchester’s Rachel Gibson, Marta Cantijoch and Silvia Galandini, on whether or not mySociety online request sites in the United Kingdom have an impact.The full research paper is now available, download it here .

United States: Adam Marshall of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press writes about how federal agencies want to clear their FOIA backlogs by forcing requesters to restate their interest.

United Kingdom: A look at local FOI on the FOIMan blog.

Taxes: “CFOs Should Prepare Now for Greater Global Tax Transparency,” says a Wall Street Journal blog post (subscription required).

United States: Susan Nevelow Mart of the University of Colorado Boulder School of Law, and Tom Ginsburg of the University of Chicago Law School write an article in the Administrative Law Journal titled “[Dis-]Informing the People’s Discretion: Judicial Deference Under the National Security Exemption of the Freedom of Information Act.” The abstract ends:

Our conclusion is that the systematic failures of the federal courts in the FOIA context are neither inevitable nor justified. We show that courts do occasionally order the release of some documents. This article includes the first empirical investigation into the decisionmaking of the D.C. district courts and federal circuit courts in cases involving the national security exemption to determine what, if any, factors favor document release. We find that party characteristics are the biggest predictor of disclosure. We also show that, while politics do not seem to matter at most courts, they do at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, at which Republican-dominated panels have never ordered disclosure.

Extractives Transparency: The monthly newsletter of the Natural Resource Governance Institute includes many articles related to transparency in the extractive industries.

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