What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes.
Last year, a Senate subcommittee on FOIA advanced one bill after another that restricted the public’s access to government information. It recommended a bill to exempt police names, one to limit which state salaries could be released and in what format, and one that created a month-long procedural requirement where the government would ask private businesses if it was OK to release records.
This year?

2016 open government award winners

The Virginia Coalition for Open Government is pleased to announce the winners of its 2016 open government awards. The awards are given to individuals or organizations who have made use of public information laws to keep government accountable and to inform their fellow citizens.

A FOIA story

I don’t usually repost full copies of news stories, but this one is especially noteworthy as a snapshot of how FOIA transactions can unspool. This is a reporter trying to get a state agency report, but the same back and forth, same push and pull, can be experienced by requesters at all levels of government and all corners of the state. Even when the law or an exemption is used correctly, it is still often difficult to follow the process and understand why confidentiality is needed when it isn’t mandated.

VCOG submits joint letter on WMATA oversight commission

VCOG has submitted a letter -- co-signed with the DC Open Government Coalition and the Maryland-Deleware-DC Press Association -- urging lawmakers in each jurisdiction to include specific transparency measures in their proposals to create the Metrorail Safety Commission for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to oversee the Metro system.

Read the letter here:

Rhyne a guest on This Week in Richmond

VCOG's executive director, Megan Rhyne, was a guest on the June 10, 2016, edition of This Week in Richmond, hosted by David Bailey.

FOIA shouldn't be us vs. them

This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Friday, March 18, 2016

Rhyne: FOIA requests shouldn't pit government against the public

Here’s a two-question test for you:

Question 1: Are government employees and public officials (a) always trying to hide something, or (b) of the purest hearts and noblest of actions?

Question 2: Is the “public” (a) always trying to stir up trouble, or (b) of the purest hearts and noblest of actions?

Meeting meeting myths head-on

A slightly edited version of this column originally ran in The Roanoke Times, Sunday, March 13, n2016


Rhyne: Meeting meeting myths head-on

By Megan Rhyne

Rhyne is executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

When we talk about the Freeom of Information Act, the tendency is to focus on the part of Virginia law that governs access to public records.

Of salary & critical infrastructure

UPDATE: All three bills noted below were approved Feb. 8 by the committee. In the process, SB 552, which started off dealing just with law enforcement, has now been changed to prohibit the release of names in connection with salary for all government employees. 

FURTHER UPDATE: By the time it passed the House, SB 552 had again been amended to remove the reference to all employees. The bill now solely refers to the names/training records of law enforcement.

VCOG's annual open government award winners

The Virginia Coalition for Open Government is pleased to announce the winners of its 2015 open government awards. The three winners represent the public, government and media, and all have worked on the same issue: access to court-case information.


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