Policy and News Updates for March 10, 2009

In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. March 20th: OpenTheGovernment.org Kicks Off National Dialogue on Open Government Directive

II. . Bill to Require Senate to E-File Re-introduced

III. Senator Lieberman Urges Improved Public Access to Court Documents, CRS Reports

News from Coalition Partners & Others

Get Ready for Sunshine Week 2009

Sunshine Week has posted a calendar of events intended focus the public on the importance of open government and the freedom of information. OpenTheGovernment.org and several coalition partners will be hosting and attending events scheduled across the country. Check the calendar for events near you!


Sunlight Foundation Hosts Transparency Camp

On Saturday, February 28 and Sunday, March 1, the Sunlight Foundation convened Transparency Camp, an "unconference" bringing together open government advocates from all walks to share knowledge on how to use new technologies to make our government transparent and meaningfully accessible to the public. OpenTheGovernment.org and several coalition partners were well represented at the event. Notes from some of the sessions are available on the event’s Wiki.


Coalition Partners Sponsor Whistle Blower Conference

Several coalition partners currently are attending the National Whistleblower Assembly (NWA), a four day conference running through Wednesday, March 11th and located in Washington, DC. The primary goal of the conference is to convince Congress to finally pass the Whistleblower Protection Act, a bill to restore and strengthen the rights of federal workers who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse. Sponsors of the NWA include coalition partners the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), and Public Citizen.


ReadTheBill.org Re-launched

Read the Bill, a campaign to require Congress to post all bills online for 72 hours before they are debated has been re-launched with the assistance of the Sunlight Foundation. A more transparent government begins with providing the people with the opportunity to tell their elected officials what they think of a piece of legislation, before it comes up for a vote. Visit the website to sign the petition in favor of the rule change.


I. March 20th: OpenTheGovernment.org Kicks Off National Dialogue on Open Government Directive

On Friday, March 20th from 1 – 2:30 eastern, Open The Government.org will host the 4th Annual Sunshine Week National Dialogue. During this year’s event, held at the Center for American Progress and available via webcast, the public will have the opportunity to be involved in the crafting of the new Administration’s open government directive. During the event, OpenTheGovernment.org the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) will release a report based on the results of Show Us the Data, a web-based survey used to discover what information the public wants to get access to and use, but cannot. The event will feature a discussion between speakers and the audience on what the Obama administration hopes to achieve, the policy issues facing this administration, the Obama administration’s vision for e-government, and financial and economic transparency. Learn more about the event by visiting the 2009 Sunshine Week Event Page.

II. Bill to Require Senate to E-File Re-introduced

On February 27th, Senator Feingold re-introduced a bill, S. 482, to require Senators to electronically file campaign contribution reports. The delay caused by paper filings allows donors to bundle contributions in the final, critical weeks of a campaign with absolute anonymity. During the last session of Congress, the bill (numbered S. 223) enjoyed broad bi-partisan support, but was blocked by an attempt to attach a controversial amendment. S. 482 is currently cosponsored by 25 Senators; ask your Senator to join as a cosponsor and support passage of S. 482 using our Action Alert.


III. Senator Lieberman Urges Improved Public Access to Court Documents, CRS Reports

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Senator Joe Lieberman, has recently sent two letters urging improved public access to government information. One letter, sent on February 27th to the Judicial Conference of the United States, raised concerns about whether or not enough has been done to make records accessed from the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system freely available and whether or not the system adequately protects private information. The second letter urges the Rules Committee to support the creation of an officially-sanctioned system to disseminate reports created by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).