It’s been some time since we’ve updated you on all the access news out there, so we have quite a bit to report. Here are some miscellaneous developments and resources we thought you should know about.
Indiana Public Access Counselor Heather Willis Neal wants everyone to know that her office has moved – slightly. She’s in the same building, on the same floor, but in a different room. The new room number is W470. It’s in the far southwest corner of the 4th flloor.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has gone interactive with its Open Government Guide. The guide is your key to navigating the open meetings and open records laws in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. As you search the guide’s categories, you’ll notice a new comment feature that allows readers to post helpful comments or suggestions. RCFP hopes to provide requesters with practical tips on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for those actually out in the trenches using the laws in their states.
Our friend Michael Ravnitzky spotted another interesting nugget in the government attic. It’s the Department of Justic’s Orientation Manual for U.S. Attorneys. We repost it herefor those who might find it useful.*****
Have you heard about Wikileaks? The site for sharing leaked government documents is worth checking out. Recently, it released thousands of quasi-secret congressional reports – more than 127,000 pages of documents on subjects ranging from foreign relations to the economy. The reports date from 1990 to last year and come from the Congressional Research Service, an agency that is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Now, thanks to Wikileaks, they are open to the public. You can peruse them here.
Finally, the National Freedom of Information Coalition, along with a number of other open government groups that form OpenTheGovernment.org, last fall issued the 2008 Government Secrecy Report Card.
Using 14 different measurements, the groups found that government secrecy was on the rise in category after category in 2008. According to the report, the U.S. is now classifying more records as top secret or confidential and employing fewer workers who make federal documents publicly available. There was also an 80 percent decline over the last decade in the number of pages of records declassified, dropping last year to 37 million pages. The report also notes that federal surveillance activity under the secretive FISA court has risen for the ninth consecutive year, more than double the amount in 2000.
You can read the full report here.