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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Interactive Map: Students, Others at Risk from Hazardous Chemical Facilities

One in ten American schoolchildren study within one mile of a potentially dangerous chemical facility, according to the Center for Effective Government's latest interactive map, which we released yesterday. A year ago, the fertilizer facility explosion in West, TX, which destroyed one school and irreparably damaged two others, demonstrated the very real risk these facilities pose, especially to schools and students. Parents and community members need to better understand the risks these facilities pose and demand that facilities be as safe as possible.

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One Year after the West, Texas Explosion: Has Safety Improved?

A year ago today, 15 Americans were killed and 200 injured in a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that also destroyed surrounding schools, a nursing home, and residential buildings. The disaster raised serious questions about managing the risks that facilities can pose to local communities. A year later, we ask ourselves, are we any safer?

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Preventing Chemical Disasters and Protecting Your Right to Know

On March 31, the Center for Effective Government filed comments with the Interagency Working Group established under President Barack Obama's Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. Our comments provide key recommendations to the Working Group that will help prevent chemical disasters and ensure that the public has information about the risks that chemical facilities pose to their communities.

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