Senator Patrick Leahy is a longtime champion for open government and the Freedom of Information Act. His statement commemorating our 10th anniversary is below.
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,
Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Founding of OpenTheGovernment.org
April 18, 2014
Today I am happy to recognize the 10th anniversary of the founding of OpenTheGovernment.org, a diverse coalition of more than 80 organizations who work together to make our government more open and accountable to its citizens. Launched a decade ago during Sunshine Week, OpenTheGovernment.org works to advance the public’s “right to know” and to reduce unnecessary government secrecy. I congratulate OpenTheGovernment.org on this milestone anniversary.
For the past decade, I have worked closely with this coalition to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) and to increase government transparency. Our collaboration has resulted in the enactment of several important laws to strengthen FOIA, including the OPEN Government Act — the first major reforms to FOIA in more than a decade — and the OPEN FOIA Act, which increased the transparency of legislative exemptions to FOIA. These efforts have always been bipartisan, because Democrats and Republicans understand that a commitment to transparency is a commitment to our American values of openness and accountability, and ultimately, to the public’s right to access information.
OpenTheGovernment.org has skillfully built a nonpartisan coalition that is committed to these goals. In partnership with Congress, the coalition has successfully preserved the public’s right to access important health and safety information, critical infrastructure information, and information about the oversight of our financial system.
I commend the coalition’s Executive Director, Dr. Patrice McDermott, for her dedicated leadership on these important issues. I applaud the many organizations that make up this vital coalition, including: the Federation of American Scientists; National Security Archive; American Library Association; Project on Government Oversight; American Society of News Editors; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington; and the Sunlight Foundation.
Every member of this coalition understands how critical the public’s right to know is to a vibrant democracy. I look forward to continuing to work with OpenTheGovernment.org to further expand the accountability of our Government to its citizens.