While some of us on the East Coast may feel like this is the winter that will never end, it’s nice to know that there’s sunshine on the horizon – Sunshine Week 2014! During the week of March 16 to March 22, groups across the country will promote openness in state and local governments and discuss the importance of open government and freedom of information. (Learn more about local events at Sunshine Week’s website.) If you are in the Washington, D.C., area, Sunshine Week starts a bit early! Mark your calendars for these events:
Tuesday March 11: OGIS Director Miriam Nisbet will testify before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on “Open Government and Freedom of Information: Reinvigorating the Freedom of Information Act for the Digital Age” at 10:15 a.m. in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Learn more (and watch online) at the Committee’s website.
Friday March 14: The 16th annual National Freedom of Information Day conference will take place at the Newseum. This event, hosted by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center in partnership with OpenTheGovernment.org, brings together groups from all areas concerned with freedom of information and open records, including FOI advocates, government officials, lawyers, librarians, journalists and educators. (Note: The event is free, but registration is required.Consult the Freedom Forum’s website for more information.)
Monday March 17: Celebrate FOIA with the Justice Department! This annual program will describe the current state of FOIA administration and mark the fifth anniversary of the Attorney General’s FOIA Guidelines. For more information and to register, see the DOJ announcement online.
Tuesday March 18: The Collaboration on Government Secrecy will sponsor its Seventh Annual FOI Day Celebration. Director Nisbet is on a panel discussing FOIA Exemption 5’s foreseeable harm standard. The day also includes a comprehensive view of FOIA-related matters in the 113th Congress from House, Senate, majority and minority perspectives. View a PDF of the agenda, and find more details on the CGS website.
Washington-based open-government groups are hosting a panel discussion from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the National Press Club titled “Partly Cloudy: Why ‘Public Information’ Doesn’t Always = Accessible Information” that will look at tools for accessing government data. Sponsors include The National Press Club Freedom of Information Committee, the Sunlight Foundation, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, OpentheGovernment.org, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Admission is free, but registration is required. Learn more and register at the Press Club website.
Wednesday March 19: The House Advisory Committee on Transparency will discuss “The Future of FOIA” from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Room 2203 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The committee educates policymakers on transparency-related issues, problems, and solutions and shares ideas with members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus.
Thursday March 20: Join the U.S. Census Bureau to celebrate improvements in FOIA administration at its headquarters (4600 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, MD). There will be two sessions open to the public, one at 9:00 am (a discussion with OIP Director Melanie Pustay and Joey Hutcherson, deputy director of the Department of Commerce’s Office of Privacy and Open Government) and another at 11:30 a.m. (a brown-bag discussion of FOIAonline). You can register for these sessions or request more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to see you at these events!