Save the date! You are cordially invited to celebrate and examine government transparency during Sunshine Week, the nation-wide celebration of access to public information that takes place every year on the second week of March. Please join the Advisory Committee on Transparency for a virtual conference on March 16 at 12 PM.
On the occasion of President James Madison’s birthday*, we will recognize centuries of sunshine laws that established and codified the public’s rights to know and access knowledge, forming the foundation of today’s open government policies, programs, and proactive disclosures across all three branches of the U.S. government.
- Shanna Devine, Director of the House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds
- Kate Oh, Attorney and Senior Policy Counsel at the American Civil Liberites Union
- Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight
- Nick Hart, President of the Data Foundation
- Moderator: Alex Howard, Co-Director of the Advisory Committee on Transparency, Director of the Digital Democracy Project at the Demand Progress Education Fund
The event will feature remarks from Representative Mike Quigley, Founder of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, and Representative Derek Kilmer, Chair of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
The program on March 16th will include:
1) A review of the status of sunshine laws, including recent reforms to public access to information in the executive branch, from the DATA Act to FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 to the Evidence Act of 2019
2) A discussion of the impact of the pandemic and the January 6th attack on the Capitol on public access to public records, data, and trustworthy information from official sources, including transparency at the Capitol Police, Justice Department, prisons, and courts
3) A call to action on proposed legislative reforms to sunshine laws, including proactive disclosure for legislative branch agencies, increased public access to court records, and more resilient democracy through distributed public oversight, collaboration, and participation.
More details to come.
*For those unfamiliar with this past of American history, President Madison famously wrote that “a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
As a result, he is commonly recognized as one of the founding fathers of open government in the United States, the notion that in a democracy, the public has the right to access the laws, regulations, documents, data, and proceedings of state, local, and federal agencies, legislatures, and courts as a fundamental pillar of public oversight. In the many decades since Madison’s passing, March 16th has become an annual day to to celebrate public access to information and press freedom across the union.