The year 2020 is already one for the history books. Across the country, people fear for their health and economic security, calls for a racial reckoning have taken on new urgency, and the future looks uncertain. At the same time, 2020 has exposed the danger of a secretive, unaccountable government. The country’s ability to tackle the coronavirus pandemic was hampered by, among other things, the administration’s effort to stifle the public’s access to information, spreading misinformation, ordering coronavirus meetings to be classified, and silencing public health experts.
Under shutdown orders for weeks, no sooner had Americans wrapped our heads around the pandemic when we were sickened and saddened by the video of George Floyd dying under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer— the image ingrained in our collective memory. Policies like qualified immunity and concealed police discipline and use of force records set the stage for this tragedy and so many before.
As tough as these events are to process, they are opportunities to look deeper at what went wrong and consider how our work can bring about far-reaching and meaningful change.
In the following pages, we share some of our answers from the previous year. Policy-makers pushed back after we uncovered how an unchecked, unaccountable private company had provided many law enforcement agencies with insidious facial recognition technology. We’ve trained hundreds of individuals across the country to use records laws to access information in their communities. By uniting our coalition, we’ve made strides on important policy reforms including transparency and accountability in coronavirus oversight legislation, facial recognition technology regulation, and policing reform.
As we plan to do our part to continue addressing the many challenges facing our democracy, we are grateful for the commitment and continued support of our coalition partners, Steering Committee members and generous funders, who are vital to our ability to continue to bring together organizations from across the political spectrum to find common ground on issues that impact our democracy.
Tom Susman, Chair, Steering Committee, Open The Government
Lisa Rosenberg, Executive Director, Open The Government
Read the full report here.