The Open Governance Project (OGP) is an initiative of the ACLU of New Jersey. The ACLU is the nation's foremost guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve individual rights and freedoms.
What We Do
The OGP works to improve citizens' access to public records and meetings through litigation, public education and advocacy. The OGP also lobbies local and state government in support of laws and policies promoting government transparency.
Why Open Government is important
- Open Government is a lynchpin of democracy, ensuring that the voters have the information they need to choose their leaders and then evaluate their performance in office.
- Public access to information is an essential tool in the fight against corruption in government. Transparency is key to restoring citizens' confidence in public officials, especially in the current climate of corruption at so many levels of government.
- Public access to information saves lives and taxpayer dollars and exposes poor government practices.
- The public has the right to know what its government is doing. After all, isn't our government supposed to be for the people, of the people, by the people?
Our Current Priorities
- Litigate cases under the public records and meetings laws to ensure as much openness as possible (without sacrificing individual privacy rights).
- Promote the passage of legislation to limit what government bodies can charge for copies of public records to no more than 10 cents a page.
- Promote the passage of legislation to strengthen the enforcement of the Open Public Meetings Act, or "Sunshine Law," and keep it relevant as technologies change.
- Survey and analyze the Open Government Records Act (OPRA) request forms from the 1900+ records custodians across the state, identifying those that require improper or unlawful information to submit a records request and seeing them corrected.
How the OGP Makes a Difference
- Providing free legal representation in select cases to individuals who are unlawfully denied access to public records or public meetings.
- Offering informational seminars to community organizations, members of the legal profession and government agencies on open governance topics, such as How to Use OPRA, the Requirements of the Sunshine Law and Developing Issues in Government Transparency.
- Consulting with government agencies and public officials on policy matters involving open government.
How to Contact the OGP
To contact the OGP for legal assistance
To submit an OPRA form that requires improper or unlawful information
- E-mail the questionable form to: firstname.lastname@example.org
To make a donation to the OGP
To become an open governance volunteer attorney
Download a copy of the ACLU-NJ Open Governance Project Brochure (100k PDF) brochure.
- The Sunshine Law (382k PDF)
- Open Public Records Act (369k PDF)
- ACLU-NJ Open Governance Project Brochure (1.5mb PDF)
- Report Released on Failures of Open Government Meetings in N.J. (2007)
- How to use the Federal FOI Act: http://www.rcfp.org/foiact/index.html
- Paff v. OCPO
The ACLU-NJ filed an amicus brief in support of a public records requester seeking access to police dashboard camera footage.
- ACLU-NJ v. DOH
The ACLU-NJ requested public records from the NJ Department of Health after the state issued a troubling quarantine policy.
- Bornstein v. County of Monmouth
County jail requests to seal court record of video footage of the last hours of an inmate’s life.
- Scheeler v. Office of the Governor
Governor’s Office denied OPRA request for all OPRA records concerning bridegate on the grounds that OPRA records are exempt from disclosure under OPRA.
- New Jersey Citizens United v. Federal Housing Finance Agency
FOIA request for information needed for advocacy was denied
- Education Law Center v. Schools Development Authority
Public records request for factual information denied on the grounds that it was deliberative material.
- Secondary Parents Council v. Newark Public Schools
Newark Public Schools refused to disclose documents that had been previously disclosed to another organization.
- Cattonar v. Jackson Township
Jackson Township refused to release Uniform Crime Report Data.
- ACLU-NJ v. Hendricks
Challenge to New Jersey tax dollars used to support religious schools.
- Mahronni Hidalgo v. Bradley Beach Board of Education
Board of Education wrongfully withholds survey responses.