Agenda for 2021-22

Open Government Priorities During the Pandemic

The Coalition beginning in March 2020 emphasized two goals:

  • maintaining the most open government possible as D.C. government takes emergency actions during the pandemic, and
  • increasing police transparency as a key response to rising concern about over-policing and irresponsible use of force.

Accordingly, the Coalition’s latest action has included:

  • protesting secret daily “coordination” meetings of the mayor and D.C. Council at the start of the pandemic (until they were stopped);  
  • publicizing growing FOIA backlogs and successfully advocating in late 2020 for legislation reinstating deadlines for processing requests and appeals on January 15, 2021;
  • supporting emergency legislation requiring fast release of police videos of shooting deaths and other serious uses of force and advocating for better access to other police video and to police complaint and other misconduct investigations (including researching police video and records access policy elsewhere);
  • publicizing technical limits in the design of virtual hearings that reduced public access to Council committees’ FY21 budget proceedings and updating the analysis for FY22 oversight and budgetv hearings (somewhat imprioved);
  • publicizing D.C.-funded charter schools’ refusal to answer questions about receipt (or not) of pandemic bailout funds;
  • advocating for public access to virtual court proceedings as courthouses closed because of the virus;
  • commending D.C. agencies for early publication of data on infection status of key employee groups such as police and jail guards, and on institutions, but calling out missing data (such as on schools);
  • advocating successfully that the Police Reform Commission include access to unredacted body-worn-camera video and to police discipline records in their April 2020 report and recommendations.

Details of the above are in posts to the Coalition blog, archived elsewhere on this site.

Renewed Priorities for the Rest of 2021 and the Coming Year – join us:

  • improving open government laws with a long-overdue rewrite, especially including adding charter schools to the D.C. Freedom of Information Act
  • gaining Council oversight of FOIA and related infrastructure needs for 21st century records-management
  • enhancing the Office of Open Government to improve executive branch management of FOIA and assure enforceability of Office opinions (including FOIA appeals that should be delegated there)
  • ending incorrect legal positions by D.C. government that improperly expand privacy exemptions in public records law
  • winning enforcement of publication requirements in D.C. Freedom of Information Act to increase information available without request (long ignored by D.C. agencies)