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Sunlight Foundation Shines on Hawaii

May 7th, 2012 by Ryan Ozawa · 1 Comment · Government

Sunlight Foundation Blog

On Wednesday, the first local meetup of the Sunlight Foundation community will be held at Yogur Story . Pulled together by  Burt Lum, my fellow open government advocate and long-time partner in geekery, the gathering will bring together like-minded folks to discuss how technology new thinking can make government more transparent and accountable.

The meetup comes just as the Hawaii state legislature has passed a bill that will give government agencies a process by which they can fight information disclosure in the courts.

SB2858 is aimed at the Office of Information Practices, an agency with which I’ve tangled before. The OIP was designed to act as an advocate and enforcer of open government, to whom the public or the media would turn when a government agency resisted turning over requested records. By design, the OIP’s rulings were hard to fight… but in 2009, the Kauai County Council sued the OIP, and won. Ostensibly fearing the door had been opened to future litigation, the OIP backed this bill, which sets a framework for judicial review.

I was invited by the Sunlight Foundation to contribute a guest blog post reviewing the new law and the arguments on both sides:

If a good compromise is one in which neither side is satisfied, a new bill passed by the Hawaii state legislature is an unmitigated success.

The state Office of Information Practices, dedicated to “ensuring open government” but headed by a political appointee, supported amendments to Hawaii law that would give government agencies a process by which they could fight requests for information in the courts.

Open-government and media organizations fought the measure, saying it created a costly and cumbersome process that goes in the wrong direction. Yet, even some of the government bodies that would be given more options to fight information disclosure decisions by the OIP were against the bill, saying the measure “goes too far.”

Click through to read the full post.

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