Neighbors Oversight for Open Government (www.nofog.info)
The mission of Neighbors Oversight for Open Government is to use, learn and share the public records laws of North Carolina, being firmly convinced that by so doing citizens will bring such scrutiny and publicity to the actions of officials that they will be forced to refrain from secretive and unscrupulous behaviors. The organization's goal is to restore transparency, fairness, accountability, and justice to local government, and to enlist and educate all who share the belief that government "of the people, by the people and for the people" is the cornerstone of democracy, and must be preserved at all costs.
Research to date has been limited to collecting, compiling and relating results from numerous public records requests, discovering and explaining additional information resources, and exploring ways to encourage more people to use them. The organization shares the results on its website (almost daily) and with responsible government officials.
Still in the conceptual stage is a project to have introduced into the North Carolina legislature a bill calling for the creation of an office or agency granted the investigative and enforcement authority to compel compliance with the existing public record laws. The only current recourse in the law for groups or individuals who are unlawfully denied access is to bring suit. In cases where there are many instances of and/or numerous officials denying access, the complexity and cost of such a filing requires resources far beyond those of the vast majority of citizens, in effect rendering an otherwise strongly written law virtually useless.
The issues dealt with are fluid and constantly changing and therefore best monitored on the website.
NoFog gives two awards to local officials. The first is its "White Hat Award," which is given to recognize consistent compliance with public records requests, and the second is the ""Big White Hat Award," which is given to officials who not only comply, but also demonstrate more concern for their constituents and community than their own personal ambitions or agendas.