Celebrating Sunshine Week 2014

Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of government openness and transparency, will be held next week, from March 16-22. Leading up to and during the week, events are held nationwide to highlight transparency in government. There are legislative hearings, film screenings, public discussions, editorials, reports published, and awards recognizing those who have advanced government openness and transparency.

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Oversight Board Calls for Greater Transparency of Telephone Surveillance

Today, the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board released its report examining the bulk collection of telephone records by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the operation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The NSA program has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The oversight board’s report is sharply critical of the program and calls for greater transparency of surveillance policies and the surveillance court.

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President Promises Modest Steps toward Surveillance Transparency

In a widely anticipated speech today, President Obama laid out his position on reforming surveillance activities in the wake of disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Today’s announcements outlined modest steps to better protect privacy and bring greater transparency to the U.S. government’s surveillance activities, but more remains to be done.

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Chemical Risks Remain as We Wait for Federal Chemical Safety Reforms

Chemical incidents and injuries steadily continue as we wait for federal efforts to improve chemical safety and security to bear fruit. Last Friday, two employees were burned in a chemical explosion and fire at a petrochemical plant in Alsip, IL. This explosion is one of several across the country that have caused injuries and deaths in recent months.

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Judge Rules Against "Secret Law" in Center for Effective Government Lawsuit

A federal judge ruled yesterday in favor of the Center for Effective Government, ordering the federal government to release documents we requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Specifically, the court ordered the government to disclose the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, a 2010 document also known as PPD-6.

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Reining in “Controlled Unclassified” Information: Time to Get the Job Done

The administration’s 2nd Open Government National Action Plan, released Dec. 6, includes a welcome commitment to implement the reforms laid out in President Obama’s 2010 executive order on controlled unclassified information (CUI).

Background

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Defense Department Takes Narrower Approach to Controlled Unclassified Information

A new Department of Defense (DOD) rule requires defense contractors to protect “unclassified controlled technical information” from unauthorized access and disclosure. The rule, issued Nov. 18, is much narrower than DOD’s proposed rule, which had raised concerns that it could result in the inappropriate withholding of public information.

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Calls for Safer Chemicals Dominate Listening Session on Chemical Security

On Nov. 15, three federal agencies held the second of a series of “listening sessions” to improve chemical facility safety and security. Held in Washington, DC, the major point of discussion during the daylong session was on the need for the federal government to require high-risk facilities to convert to safer chemicals when available and affordable.

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Whistleblower Reveals U.S. Spy Agencies' Secret Budget

Details on the secret U.S. spy budget spilled into the public realm yesterday after The Washington Post published selective pages from the 16-agency intelligence community’s fiscal year 2012 congressional budget justification, leaked by former Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden.

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Could Secrecy Caps Reduce Over-Classification?

Government officials from both parties have decried the excessive secrecy rampant in the executive branch for decades. For instance, in 2005 then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where he stated “I have long believed that too much material is classified across the federal government as a general rule.”

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