Election Transparency Threatened by Lack of Resources for Key Agency

Impeded by a lack of resources, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has been slow to publicly release recent campaign finance disclosures. The FEC is the independent agency charged with enforcing federal election laws and making campaign finance information available to the American people. This information is vital, particularly in the wake of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that gutted our campaign finance laws, and significant delays in releasing of such data are of serious concern to the health of our democracy.

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Obama’s Executive Order to Improve Chemical Facility Safety, One Year Later

One year ago today, President Obama issued Executive Order 13650, which directs federal agencies to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities. The order came in response to a string of chemical disasters, including the April 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people and injured more than 200.

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EPA Requests Public Comments on Chemical Safety Standards

On July 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a preview of its Request for Information (RFI) on revisions to its Risk Management Program, which tracks information and requires disaster prevention plans from potentially risky chemical facilities.

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Striving for Transparency and Accountability in Border Enforcement

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has a long road ahead as the agency aims to enhance its accountability. Several stories in recent weeks have raised questions about the transparency and effectiveness of the agency’s use-of-force policies and practices. In response, CBP released long-sought documents, replaced its chief of internal affairs, and announced that it will restructure that office.

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Agencies Should Cooperate with Freedom of Information Ombudsman, Administrative Conference Says

Federal agencies should do more to cooperate with the government's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ombudsman, according to recommendations approved June 5 by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). The recommendations also called for the ombudsman, known as the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), to continue efforts to assist people who make FOIA requests. The recommendation is a positive step for helping people access public information under FOIA.

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Chemical Safety Report Opens Door for Improvements, but Strong Requirements Still Needed

On June 6, the interagency working group that President Obama formed in the wake of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion released its report to the president, conveying its recommendations for improving chemical facility safety and security. The report outlines many of the significant problems facing chemical facility safety in this country, including limited information sharing, incomplete and incompatible regulations, and the need for greater use of safer technologies. The recommendations on these problems point in the right direction but leave the details to the individual agencies to resolve as they move forward on possible regulations and policy changes.

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President Obama Wants More Drone Transparency, Congress Misses an Opportunity

On May 28, President Obama acknowledged the need for increased transparency about the administration’s national security activities, particularly with regard to lethal strikes by drone aircraft. However, Congress recently missed an opportunity to bring about such disclosure.

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Justice Department Will Release Drone Strike Memo

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced May 20 that it will not appeal a court decision ordering the disclosure of the legal analysis that justifies the government's drone-based targeted killing program. The Center for Effective Government, along with other transparency organizations, had called on DOJ to let the decision stand and release the records. The case, New York Times Co. v. Department of Justice, was filed after the agency rejected a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the document.

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Releasing Drone Program Memos Is Fundamental to Government Transparency

On May 13, the Center for Effective Government joined other open government organizations in urging Attorney General Eric Holder not to appeal the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York Times Co. v.

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Transparency Missing from House NSA Reform Bill

On May 8, the House Intelligence Committee approved the USA FREEDOM Act, which would limit the National Security Agency's (NSA) ability to spy on Americans through their phone records. A day earlier, the House Judiciary Committee approved the same bill, setting the stage for consideration by the full House.

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