The DC Open Government Coalition condemned a proposal brought forward by Mayor Vincent C. Gray that would limit the public's access to information and make it easier for city government agencies to avoid provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
“While the rest of the world marches toward greater transparency to combat corruption and enhance public participation and confidence in government, the Mayor’s FOIA proposal would take the District a big step backward. It's shameful,” said Thomas M. Susman, Coalition president, when he learned about the bill.
The Freedom of Information Amendment Act of 2012, Bill 19-776, would expand FOI Act exemptions permitting agencies to withhold law enforcement records, critical infrastructure data, and information private entities submit to the government. It would broaden the so-called deliberative process exemption to cover studies and reports prepared at government expense by outside contractors, and it would broaden the definition of privilege applied to withhold records somehow related to litigation and legal proceedings.
The bill seeks to wrest control of the Open Government Office, established in 2010 but never opened, from the recently created Ethics Board. It would limit the Office’s responsibilities to training public officials about the FOI and Open Meetings statutes. The Office could provide “voluntary, informal dispute resolution services,” but could not become involved in litigation to enforce either statute. Finally, it says “The Mayor may issue rules governing the functions and procedures of the Open Government Office as related to this section.”
See rest of statement here.