FOINotes: UNEP, US, US, Open Data, Uganda, Blockchain Technology, More

30 June 2016

UNEP: Carole Excell from the World Resources Institute is appointed as the outside member of the Access to Information Panel of the UN Environmental Programme.

United States: “The Public And Its Right To Know,” by Kathleen Weldon, Director of Communications for the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University. “While the public has widely supported greater openness for decades, some concerns remain,” she reports, based on survey results.

Real Estate Transparency: JLL’s ninth Global Real Estate Transparency Index “reveals which countries provide the most favourable operating environments for investors, developers and corporate occupiers.”

Think Tank Transparency: A new report by Transparify shows “the increase in transparency among our original sample of institutions over the past four years.”

United Kingdom: “Central government’s sharing of Freedom of Information requester’s names doesn’t meet privacy standards and shouldn’t happen, the regulator has said,” writes Matt Burgess in FOIA Directory.

FOIANet: “Like” the FOIANet Facebook page, featuring FOI Success stories.  this week!!

Open Data/Africa: A ICTWorks report: “The Status of Open Data Initiatives in West Africa.”

Open Data: “Open Data and the Free Access to Law Movement in the United States,” by Joshua Finnell.

Canada: The Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner is calling for a “wholesale reset” of the City of Vancouver’s Freedom of Information procedures after finding “shortcomings” in every step of the process to access documents, CBC reports. “The audit found the city was not making a reasonable effort to assist applicants that were seeking information.”

Blockchain Technology: “What the blockchain could mean for democracy in the digital age,” an article by Dan Swislow, Senior Partnerships Officer at the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

Dominican Republic: Citizen Participation, a nonpartisan civic movement, has released its a report on citizen monitoring of municipal governments, reporting on a variety of deficiencies. The project — “Active Citizenship for Transparent and Inclusive Local Management” — was executed and coordinated with nine other civil society organizations. The project is part of the Program of Support for Civil Society and Local Authorities (PASCAL), funded by the European Union. The study looked at 11 indicators to measure the level of transparency and performance of local governments in three areas: professionalization of municipal management, citizen participation in the budget cycle and Inclusiveness of public services.

Bahamas: Consultations on a FOI bill are ongoing, see website of Bahamas Local.

Israel: Three United Nations human rights experts urged Israeli lawmakers not to approve the socalled “NGO transparency bill,” according to a UN press release. The experts said it would chill the speech of human rights NGOs by subjecting them to harsh penalties.

United States: Alex Howard of The Sunlight Foundation offers seven suggestions to improve FOIA along with a fact-based analysis. His seven idea: ask requestors for feedback, post contact information, pick up the phone, increase funding for FOIA staff, make better FOIA software, train FOIA officers, and open the data, proactively disclose it.

United States: The Electronic Privacy Information Center describes its FOIA successes.

United States: The Securities and Exchange Commission adopts a rule requiring oil, gas and mining companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges to publicly disclose the billions of dollars in payments that they make to governments around the world in exchange for natural resources. “This rule marks the end of an era of secrecy,” said Suneeta Kaimal, chief operating officer of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI).

Nigeria: The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ has commended the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for steps taken to improve transparency, accountability and effectiveness of the commission. This followed the recent release of the commission’s first quarterly report for 2016 which has also been made available to the public through the NDDC website, according to an article in The Nigerian Observer.

Business: “Transparency is Not Enough: Why the Financial Industry Must Embrace Accountability,” an article by Elliot S. Weissbluth, Chief Executive Officer, HighTower.

United States: Open government experts say the University of Wisconsin System failed to release its budget in a timely way after metadata revealed the budget had been last edited six days earlier, according to an article in Watchdog.

Uganda: An initiative of the Public and Private Development Centre to obtain contracting data in Uganda is described here.

Japan: Here are several articles in English on the annual government report required by the 2014 “Specially Designated Secrets” Act. April articles in Japan Times and Mainichi. An April editorial in Asahi Shimbun and a March editorial in Asahi Shimbun.

Open Electricity/Malaysia: “Gov’t must be transparent in electricity tariff setting,” according to an article in MalaysiaKini.

United States: C.J. Ciaramella writesThe Freedom of Information Act—and the Hero Who Pioneered It,” subtitled, “Celebrating the curious and deeply unpopular political career of John Moss, godfather of the FOIA.”

United States: A “Foreign Aid Accountability Bill” unanimously passes in the Senate, a move lauded by the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN).

United States: State legislation on police bodycam video is reviewed in an article by of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

United Kingdom: The past year has been one of “real achievement,” according to outgoing information commissioner Christopher Graham in his last annual report.

World Bank: A new open data website is announced.


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