Past Research and Statements

Public Information Handouts

D.C. FOIA (2023)

D. C. Open Meetings Law (2023)

How Does D.C. Law Protect Whistleblowers? (2019)

How DC’s Open Records and Open Meetings Laws Can Work for You (2019)


D. C. Council Oversight Hearings – current year 2023

  • Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (part of the Council, not under the mayor) should urgently offer enhanced technology and training to help ANCs manage records for FOIA compliance and to improve public access to meetings (Committee on Housing, Robert White, chair; written statement)
  • Office of Administrative Hearings must improve treatment of the tens of thousands of users, including online information on using the agency and opinions deciding past cases (Committee on Public Works & Operations, Brooke Pinto, chair; written statement)
  • D.C. Archives has contracted architects for the long-delayed new building but they must consult soon with users and community experts so that the plans being finalized will maximize public access to the vast and historic collections managed by the Office of Public Records in the Office of the Secretary (Committee on Executive Administration & Labor, Anita Bonds, chair; written statement); similar testimony for Department of General Services, the construction agency that manages the project’s architects (Committee on Facilities & Family Services, Janeese Lewis George, chair; written statement)
  • Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel should pass to a better-resourced agency their job of deciding appeals of agencies’ FOIA denials; that may be the only way to end backlogs of undecided cases and failure for years to publish decisions (Committee on Executive Administration & Labor, Anita Bonds, chair; written statement)
  • Metro (WMATA) board should involve the public in plans for access to video from Transit Police body cameras that roll out later this year; draft plans are now secret and critical decisions are in the hands of police officials who rarely opt for public access that is the norm in all three Metro jurisdictions (Committee on Transportation & Environment, Charles Allen, chair; written statement)
  • D.C. Metropolitan Police must end over-redaction of police body-cam video released to FOIA requesters since it takes forever, costs a bundle, and isn’t even lawful (Committee on Judiciary & Public Safety, Brooke Pinto, chair; written statement)
  • Office of the Chief Technology Officer should improve the outdated technology 10,000 requesters use each year to submit and track FOIA requests at the citywide online access portal (Committee on Public Works & Operations, Brianne Nadeau, chair; written statement)
  • Office of Open Government needs authority to assure agency compliance with laws on public access to meetings and records (now it must go to court to enforce laws on meetings and has no authority at all over FOIA compliance) and should also handle appeals of ANCs’ FOIA denials which now can only be challenged in costly court proceedings (Committee on Executive Administration & Labor, Anita Bonds, chair; written statement)
  • Department of Health should promptly complete re-publication of annual reports on patient and physician implementation of the Death With Dignity Act of 2016; public reports required by Section 8 of the law were issued but withdrawn over concerns for individual identifiability, but never restored until the Coalition made a FOIA request for the reports and even then, republication is incomplete after seven months (Committee on Health, Christina Henderson, chair; written statement).

Prior years

Open Government Act and Other Proposals (2012)

Office of Open Government Budget (2014, 2018)

FOIA Problems at Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (2016)

Office of Open Government Oversight (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021)

Expungement of Criminal Records Legislation (2017)

Charter School Transparency (D.C. Council 2015, 2019-1, 2019-2, 2020; D.C. Public Charter School Board 2019)

Commission on Archives and Record Management Act of 2018 (2018)

FOIA Portal (OCTO Oversight 2019)

BEGA Melissa Tucker Confirmation (2019)

Problems in Public Access to MPD Body-worn Camera Video D.C. Council 2019)

Problems of DC FOIA Funding and Oversight Since 2018 Changes in Law (BEGA Oversight 2020)

Recommendations for Funding and Direction to Office of Administrative Hearings to Publish Opinions to Comply with D.C. FOIA (FY 21 budget hearing, 2020)

Office of Administrative Hearings Oversight (2021) and Budget (2021)

MPD Oversight (2021)

DCPS Oversight (re: pandemic data and budget clarity) (2022)

Office of Chief Medical Examiner Oversight (2022)

Office of the Secretary Oversight (re: DC Archives) (2022)

Office of Administrative Hearings Oversight (2022) and FY23 Budget (2022)

CFO Glen Lee Confirmation (2022)

Office of ANCs Director Kent Boese Confirmation (2022)

DC Council Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (oversight 2022; planning roundtable 2022)

Office of the Chief Technology Officer Oversight (2022)

Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel Oversight (FOIA appeals) (2022)

Office of Open Government Oversight (2022)

Public statements

Most recent year – 2023

Prior years

Letter to Mayor Gray on Open Government Improvements Needed (2013)

D.C. Open Government Action Plan – For Mayor Bowser’s First Term (2014)

Opposing Mayor’s Proposals to Exempt Police Body-worn Camera Video From FOIA (2015)

Request to Council Member Mary Cheh to open hearings on D.C. government contracting problems (2016)

Failure to Reappoint Director of Office of Open Government (2018-1, 2018-2)

Proposed Changes Reducing Independence of Office of Open Government (2018-1, 2018-2)

Request to IG to Investigate Unlawful Actions Regarding Office of Open Government (2018)

Notification to D.C. Personnel Officials of BEGA Personnel Actions Contrary to Law (Regarding OOG director position) (2018)

Opposing FOIA Amendments Attached to D.C. Budget by Council Chair Without Hearing (2019)

Letter to Mayor Bowser asking ban on government employee use of WhatsApp encrypted communication channel (2019)

Letter (with others) to Mayor Bowser Recommending Transparency and Other Features in Design of Any Smart-phone Apps for Virus Contact-Tracing (2020)

Letter to Charles Allen, Chair of D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary & Public Safety, Recommending Additions to Police Reform Legislation (2020)

Letter to DC Court of Appeals Supporting Expanded Online Access to Court Records (2021)

Letter to DC Council on Open Government Details of Marked-up Police Reform Legislation (2022)

E-mail to DC Council supporting legislation making DC employees’ text messages official records subject to FOIA (2022)

Letter to DC Council Opposing Bill Limiting Access to Medical Examiner Death Investigation Records (2022)

Letter to WMATA Board on Rules for Public Access to Transit Police Body-Worn Camera Video (2022)

Letter to DC Dep’t of General Services on Architects’ Draft Plan for New Archives Facility (2022)


“Strengthening Government Transparency Act of 2017” (Coalition active in drafting) (bill 2017; discussion)


D.C. government agencies’ FOIA processing performance (2012, 2013, 2015)

D.C. public bodies’ open meetings performance (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

D.C. government agencies’ compliance with mandatory publication law (E-FOIA) (2010, 2016)

Police body-worn camera video – survey of access law and policy nationwide (2016)

Government officials’ text messages – survey of access law nationwide (2017); also published, Communications Lawyer, Spring 2017.

D.C. government contracts – public access to details (2017)

Charter schools elsewhere – detailed survey of laws in other states and selected big cities on coverage of authorizers and schools under public records and open meetings laws (2019); summary (2019)

Access to police discipline records elsewhere – survey of law and policy in 16 jurisdictions (2020)

Uses of DC Open Government Laws by Press and Community (compilation beginning in 2019; updated periodically) (latest 5-18-23)

Coalition legal actions

Coalition litigation: access to D.C. Council members’ official emails on private accounts, D.C. OGC v. D.C. Council, Case No. 2012 CA 008118B. (complaint 2012; settlement 2013)

Amicus brief: whether D.C. legislator may use “speech and debate” privilege to justify FOIA withholding. Vining v. Council of D.C., D.C. Court of Appeals Case No. 14-CV-1322 (brief 2015; opinion 2016; discussion)

Letter brief to D.C. Attorney General on incorrect denial of access to police body-worn camera video shown in court (letter; discussion)

Amicus brief: opposing use of “husher” to mask bench conversation between judge and potential jurors in criminal jury selection, as violation of “public trial” requirement in U.S. Constitution. Blades v. United States, D.C. Court of Appeals Case No. 15-CF-663 (2019).

Amicus brief: supporting trial court decision ordering D.C. mayor to comply with D.C. FOIA requirement to publish budget materials without need of individual record request. Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP v. District of Columbia, Superior Court Case No. 2020 CA 003087 B; D.C. Court of Appeals Case No. 21 CV 543. Brief; blog discussion (2022).

Sustained Coalition Complaints

Complaints to Office of Open Government on Open Meetings Act violations

  • D.C. Mayor’s Cross-Sector Education Task Force closed meetings (2015)
  • D.C. State Superintendent of Education School Funding Working Group closed meetings (2016)
  • D.C. Housing Authority closed meetings (2016)
  • United Medical Center closed meeting (2017)
  • Education Research Practice Partnership closed meetings (2022)
  • Healthcare Workforce Task Force multiple issues (complaint 2022, opinion 2022)

Complaints to Office of Open Government on agency FOIA policy errors

  • Improper redaction by Inspector General of report on schools’ chancellor unethical conduct (2017)
  • Unlawful refusal by Office of Chief Technology Officer of some email searches requested under FOIA (2017)
  • Unlawful request by Metropolitan Police Department for identification from some FOIA requesters (2018)
  • Office of Administrative Hearings failure to publish opinions as required by E-FOIA statute (2020)
  • Office of the State Superintendent of Education failure to publish opinions on special education complaints as required by E-FOIA statute (2020)
  • Metropolitan Police Department excessive redaction when releasing body-cam video under FOIA (complaint 2019, opinion 2020)
  • OCTO failure to provide usable FOIA portal (complaint 2021, opinion 2022)
  • Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel failure to decide appeals and publish opinions as law requires (complaint 2022, opinion 2022)
  • Rental Housing Commission failure to publish opinions as required by E-FOIA statute (complaint 2022, opinion 2023)