Sunshine Week in the Government: March 5, 2013 Newsletter

In This Issue:
News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. Sunshine Week in the Government
II. Partners and Friends Celebrating Sunshine

News from Coalition Partners & Others

OIRA Isn’t Following Its Own Disclosure Policies: A CEG Report

A Center for Effective Government review of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs website found that written comments and telephone records were absent, and therefore in violation of the agency’s own disclosure policies. In a 1986 memo, OIRA agreed to provide a public record of individuals attending meetings on proposed rules, and releasing summaries of oral or written communications about those rules.

Why Does Transparency Matter? A New Sunlight Foundation Research Project

The Sunlight Foundation is digging deeper into the value of transparency, and they need your help. Sunlight’s new research project will draw from national, state, and local case studies to answer the question: “How can we harness modern technology, in particular the information, data-sharing, and collaboration it enables, to make realistic improvements in how government solves problems and serves the its citizens?” The case studies can be successes or failures. Learn more about the project or submit a case study here.

I. Sunshine Week in the Government

The sun will shine a little brighter in the halls of two branches of government this Sunshine Week. Below are events the government has scheduled thus far. Be on the lookout for notices of hearings from other committees and agencies, including the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, and visit for a full line-up of events.

On Wednesday, March 13th, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled “We the People: Fulfilling the Promise of Open Government Five Years After the OPEN Government Act.” The witnesses will include Melanie Pustay, Director of the Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice, and Miriam Nisbet, Director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). The hearing will be webcast.

At 10 am on Monday, March 11, the Department of Justice will host its annual Sunshine Week celebration. This year's event will spotlight agency practices that are intended to help comply with the Attorney General's FOIA guidelines. See the DOJ announcement for more details.

The National Archives and OGIS will celebrate with back-to-back events on Monday, March 11th. At 1pm, accompanying a display of the original FOIA legislation, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero and OGIS director Miriam Nisbet will discuss the importance of FOIA to the American people. At 1:45, the partner agencies in FOIAonline will host a demonstration of the web service used to process FOIA requests.

II. Partners and Friends Celebrating Sunshine

We’re happy to join with 11 of our partners as co-sponsors of a March 15th Sunshine Week event. An agenda and registration information are available here. But Sunshine Week is a nationwide celebration. The full calendar of events can be found on the Sunshine Week website, but here are some highlights:

  • DC Open Government Summit: The DC Open Government Coalition and the National Press Club host a discussion about open government in the district and a recent open meetings audit. Register for the event here.
  • Florida’s Third Annual Sunshine Summit: The Florida First Amendment Foundation will celebrate Sunshine Week at St. Petersburg College on Saturday, March 16 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Find out more and register to attend here.
  • Does US Secret Law Threaten Our Democracy? Panels hosted by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and George Washington University Law School. Opening remarks will be made by Sen. Ron Wyden. See the flier for more information.
  • Washington State Open Government Conference: Join the Washington Coalition for Open Government on Saturday, March 9th for panels on topics ranging from investigative reporting to filing effective records requests.
  • The Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison will be featured on WHYY- Philadelphia at 7pm on Tuesday, March 12th, presenting “Open Records 101” and discussing how to make the most of records requests with WHYY reporters. Learn more here here.
  • The Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University’s Washington College of Law will host panels on transparency on Monday, March 18th. The panels will include a “legislative outlook,” featuring Congressional staff and moderated by the American Bar Association’s Thomas M. Susman.
  • The Brennan Center for Justice will present “Secrecy and Security: The Future of Classification Reform” on Thursday, March 14th. More information on panelists can be found on the Sunshine Week event’s page.

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