Open Government (OpenGov) is the governing doctrine which holds that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) were enacted to ensure that citizens can be aware of what their government is doing. These Acts are part of the foundation of OpenGov in the United States.
Freedom of Information Act
What is The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
The The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, is a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Under the FOIA, agencies must disclose any information that is requested – unless that information is protected from public disclosure. The FOIA also requires that agencies automatically disclose certain information, including frequently requested records. As Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have all recognized, the FOIA is a vital part of our democracy.
Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966, and taking effect one year later, the FOIA provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. A FOIA request can be made for any agency record. Before sending a request to a federal agency, you should determine which agency is likely to have the records you are seeking. Each agency’s website will contain information about the type of records that agency maintains.
Who oversees the FOIA?
It is the Executive Branch, led by the President, that is responsible for the administration of the FOIA across the government. The Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy oversees agency compliance with these directives and encourages all agencies to fully comply with both the letter and the spirit of the FOIA.
The Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice oversees agency compliance with these directives and encourages all agencies to fully comply with both the letter and the spirit of the FOIA. President Obama has pledged to make this the most transparent Administration in history.
For more information about how to file a FOIA request and to browse agency release reports, visit FOIA.gov.
Colorado Open Records Act
What is the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA)?
In the spirit of open government, the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), §24-72-201, C.R.S., was enacted in 1969 and signed into law by Governor John A. Love. CORA ensures that citizens have the right to ask to inspect public documents retained by local and state government agencies. Unless specifically outlined in Colorado statute, all documents are open to the public and can be requested at any time. If any document falls under the outlined exemptions requiring closure, the specific statute requiring closure will be given to the requestor.
Each city, town, county, and state agency maintain their own set of records. To file a public information request, contact the agency most likely to have the records that you wish. CORA requires that if the information is availble it must be released within three (3) business days.
Calhan and CORA
The Town of Calhan is committed to following the priciples of Open Goverment and state law. To make a CORA public information request, contact the Town Clerk.
For more information, visit the Colorado Secretary of State CORA Information Center.