White House Lays Foundation for Agencies to Design New Open Government Initiatives

How can federal agencies be more responsive in making the information they gather and hold available to the public? Agencies are currently grappling with that question as they prepare new "open government plans" required by the White House. On Feb. 28, the Obama administration issued guidance to outline the approach that agencies should take with the next set of open government plans, which are due June 1, 2014.

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Access to Information Scorecard 2014: March 19 C-SPAN Interview

The Center for Effective Government's Sean Moulton joined Pedro Echevarria of C-SPAN's Washington Journal on March 19, 2014, to discuss the center's new report, Making the Grade: Access to Information Scorecard 2014. The report grades 15 federal agencies on how well they provide access to key public information to the American people. View a clip from the interview below:

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House Bill on Medicare Payment Transparency Undermined by Poison Pill Provision

On March 14, the House passed the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act (H.R. 4015), which includes provisions on Medicare data transparency. Among other things, the bill would require Medicare to publicly disclose data on reimbursements made to physicians while protecting patients' privacy. The legislation would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to release payment data on Physician Compare, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' online physician database. Unfortunately, the bill also contains a "poison pill" – the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate – rendering it unworkable in its current form.

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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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Transparency in Government Act Looks to Change Status Quo

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced a bill today that would take a number of innovative steps toward greater government transparency. The Transparency in Government Act would bring greater openness to the federal government through a number of pioneering proposals that harness 21st century technology and address critical gaps in each of the three branches.

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Idaho's "Ag-Gag" Law Threatens Transparency, Food Safety, and Workers' Rights

On Feb. 28, Idaho became the seventh state in the country to criminalize filming abusive or otherwise unethical activities on farms. These laws (dubbed "ag-gag" laws) limit transparency and keep Americans in the dark about food safety problems. Activists, journalists, and whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing animal abuse, unsafe working conditions, and other violations on farms.

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Report Card Finds Federal Agencies Still Struggling to Implement the Freedom of Information Act -- 48 Years After Passage

On March 10, the Center for Effective Government released a report card grading federal agencies on their implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. The overall results were disappointing: no agency earned a top overall grade of an A, and half received failing grades. The good news is that in each of the three performance areas we investigated, at least one agency earned an A.

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Open Government Scorecard Finds Agencies Still Struggling to Effectively Implement the Freedom of Information Act

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2014—In a new report published today, the Center for Effective Government grades 15 key agencies on how well they have implemented our most fundamental right-to-know law – the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). While several agencies received top scores in one of the three areas examined, no one agency earned a top overall grade of an A, and seven agencies received failing grades.

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Making the Grade: Access to Information Scorecard 2014

A building block of American democracy is the idea that as citizens, we have a right to information about how our government works and what it does in our name. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to promptly respond to public requests for information unless disclosure of the requested information would harm a protected interest. Unfortunately, since its passage in 1966 and reform in 1974, federal agencies have failed to implement the law consistently, which can make it challenging for citizens to gain access to public information as the law guarantees.

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Now Available: Obama Foreign Aid Order Obtained in Groundbreaking Case

Today, the Center for Effective Government is releasing the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, which it obtained through a path-setting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. President Obama originally issued the order in September 2010. Our story exemplifies a situation where disclosure eventually prevailed but with more delay and hassle than should be the case under the law.

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