Coalition Advocacy in Recent Years

Advocacy in 2022

Issues we addressed

  • Open Meetings Act
    • access issues arising in new virtual meetings
    • record-keeping and public access to meeting records
    • edge cases – application of law to novel public bodies
  • Freedom of Information Act
    • online publication required by E-FOIA
    • processing problems in many agencies 
    • backlog in agencies responses during and after COVID
    • appeals to the mayor – advice, drafting, backlog issues
    • Advisory Neighborhood Commission capability to find and release records
    • Metro Transit police public access to new body cam video
  • DC Archives – advocacy to assure new building serves public
  • Court records – sealing policy, and expanding online access to records
  • Electronic government – advocacy for better user experience


  • DC Council testimony – more than a dozen on oversight, FY 23 budget, senior appointee confirmations
  • FOIA policy complaints
  • Open Meetings Act violation complaints
  • FOIA requests and appeals
  • Agency letters
  • Public comments
  • Amicus brief in DC Court of Appeals on key FOIA case
  • 75 public inquiries answered by phone and email

Results we achieved

  • Agency direction and funding for more open government in six Council committee reports
  • Successful FOIA appeals (agency delays and denials overturned)
  • Direction to DC agencies (including to consult with Coalition) from the chair in Council hearings
  • Complaints to Office of Open Government on FOIA implementation and policy affirmed resulting in recommendations to agencies  
  • Court of Appeals online records access began after years of advocacy

Who we assisted

  • university researchers
  • public school parents  
  • labor union 
  • press members and freelancers
  • community blogger
  • legal service organizations
  • advocacy groups and other nonprofits
  • community groups

Advocacy in prior years

The Coalition has publicized open government law and agency practice since our founding in 2009 –both successes and areas for improvement. From testimony, public education and litigation the Coalition has many accomplishments to point to.

  • Opening up access to government
    • Won FOIA access to official email on D.C. Council members’ private accounts
    • Won FOIA access to police body cam video (successfully opposing secrecy plans)
  • Auditing DC government performance under open government laws
    • Evaluating whether public bodies follow rules for meeting notices, minutes, closings
    • Analyzing FOIA processing by DC agencies each year for delay and errors
  • Researching best practices to help DC officials do the right thing
    • Reviewing laws nationwide on access to officials’ text messages on official business
    • Reviewing regulations elsewhere to help draft D.C. rule for open meetings complaint process
    • Reviewing police body cam video access elsewhere to win best-in-nation D.C. law
  • Defeating unwise policies
    • D.C. Council’s claim of “speech and debate clause” exemption from FOIA
    • D.C. attorney general’s claim that police video shown in court was closed to press
  • Filing complaints – exposing secret meetings of board of United Medical Center and mayor’s education task force
  • Using FOIA to help press with research – D.C. officials’ emails used in education story in City Paper
  • Assisting community groups with open government issues – charter school teachers seeking more transparency in schools’ data and decisions
  • Fighting for the Office of Open Government
    • Annual oversight and budget testimony to Council
    • Advocacy for fair treatment of Office director and against weakening independence of Office
  • Bringing together officials and the community – annual “Sunshine Week Summit” in March
  • Answering hundreds of questions from those puzzled about how to use D.C. open government laws
  • Keeping D.C. open government issues in the public eye with “Transparency Watch” blog posts
  • Promoting law enforcement accountability by opposing automatic expungement of arrest records