Senators Seek Medicare Transparency

A long-running dispute about access to Medicare claims data could be resolved by bills pending in the Senate. Proponents assert the measures could combat fraud and abuse in one of the federal government's most expensive programs and might also help improve health outcomes and consumer decision making.

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Reports Detail Agency Efforts to Improve FOIA Implementation

New reports from federal agencies' chief FOIA officers reveal efforts to improve the performance of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) system. The reports show that many agencies have taken steps to improve their FOIA performance over the last year but that many challenges persist despite these advances.

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Seal Trumps Speech in False Claims Act Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently ruled against three public interest groups that sought to limit the government's ability to gag whistleblowers who file complaints under the False Claims Act (FCA). The ruling upheld a lower court decision to dismiss the suit.

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Sunshine Week Brings Bevy of Transparency Announcements

America celebrated Sunshine Week 2011 between March 13-19. The White House and federal agencies announced several new transparency initiatives during the week, and Congress held hearings to examine government openness and introduced new transparency legislation. The open government community also released new reports examining transparency efforts within government.

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OMB Watch Assesses Obama Administration's Progress on Open Government Recommendations

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2011—OMB Watch today published an in-depth analysis of the Obama administration's progress on a wide-ranging set of open government recommendations. The recommendations were crafted by a diverse group of organizations and individuals as part of the 21st Century Right to Know Project, which was coordinated by OMB Watch in 2007 and 2008.

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OMB Watch Analysis Finds Obama Administration Slowly Rebuilding Government's FOIA Performance

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2011—Today, OMB Watch released an initial analysis of the Obama administration's performance on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) implementation based on federal agency annual reports under the act. Though some progress has been made, the analysis shows that the federal government is still in a rebuilding phase when it comes to FOIA openness.

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Celebrate Open Government during Sunshine Week

From March 13-19, Americans will commemorate the importance of open government during Sunshine Week. Organized by the American Society of Newspaper Editors and a coalition of groups including OMB Watch, Sunshine Week is observed annually to coincide with the birthday of James Madison, the Founding Father known for his emphasis on checks and balances in government.

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What Does the President's Budget Mean for Transparency?

The president's budget request for fiscal year 2012, released on Feb. 14, is the opening bid in a months-long process to decide how much the federal government will spend on everything from the Navy to open government efforts. The administration's budget proposal is difficult to analyze in terms of open government commitments because it doesn’t include line-item categories for transparency activities. However, it does provide some clues about increases and cuts.

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Corporate Secrecy at Issue in Supreme Court Case

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Jan. 19 in a case that could have far-reaching ramifications for public access to corporate-related information. AT&T, fighting to prevent disclosure of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) files investigating the company, has argued that releasing the documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) would damage the company's privacy. This argument comes despite the fact that the expectation of privacy has long been recognized only as an individual right, not a corporate one.

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In WikiLeaks' Wake, Administration Tightens Information Security

A new memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) details a new requirement for all federal agencies to assess aspects of their information security in the wake of a series of embarrassing disclosures by WikiLeaks. The memo directs agencies to consider 11 pages of questions relating to information security procedures, including whether employees are required to report contacts with journalists. Transparency advocates have criticized some aspects of OMB's strategy as potentially damaging to open government.

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