Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Meet POIA: "Public Means Online" Becomes a Bill

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, March 16 2010

If you were at PdF '09 in New York City, you heard the idea floated that "public means online." In other words, if the law or regulation requires some document or other resource to be "public," you can no longer get away with stuffing it in some filing cabinet that citizens have to make an appointment to go see. You gotta put it online.

Here's a neat development in that space. The Sunlight Foundation just announced this morning that Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) is introducing the Public Online Information Act -- or, naturally, POIA -- today.* In brief, POIA would require that within three years, federal agencies will have switched to the presumption that what they publish is accessible online, and that a federal advisory committee will be established to ensure that "public means online" is an operating principle that all three branches of the federal government abide by. (Using the Freedom of Information Act's shorthand as a guide, the correct pronounciation of POIA should be "poy-ah.")

Sunlight put together the below video to explain the whys and hows of POIA. The bill is expected to head to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by New York Democrat Ed Towns.

*Note: Our Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry are senior advisors to the Sunlight Foundation. And if I'm remembering correctly, it was Andrew who kicked off the thinking on "public means online" at the conference.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

GO

wednesday >

NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

Yesterday the National Democratic Institute launched a suite of web-based applications created for their partner organizations, mostly pro-democracy groups and political parties around the world. These “DemTools,” which are ready-to-use but can also be customized, will give organizations in developing countries some of the capabilities that political activists and parties in the United States have had for years. Moreover, since the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is making the promise to host partner organization's applications in the cloud essentially forever, they hope these applications will help usher in a period of more sustainable tech.

GO

More