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2013 Sunshine Week Round-Up

March 8, 2013

sunshineweekSunshine Week, the national celebration of open government and freedom of information, kicks into full gear this coming Monday. Every year, the news media, nonprofits, libraries, schools, and the government debate the best ways to strengthen the public’s right to know and how to achieve a more democratic, transparent government. Some suggested activities taking place in the Washington, D.C. area next week include:

Monday, March 11, 2013             

  • Discussion and Viewing of the Freedom of Information Act, Office of Government Information Services, National Archives, Washington, DC

The National Archives and the Freedom of Information Act Ombudsman celebrate Sunshine Week at the Archives with a display of the original FOIA documents and remarks at 1 p.m. by Archivist of the United States David Ferriero and Office of Information Services Director Miriam Nisbet, immediately followed by a demonstration of FOIAonline, the recently launched multi-agency FOIA portal. The event is free, but registration is recommended. RSVP to ogis@nara.gov. More information is on the FOIA Ombudsman blog.

  • Fourth Annual Department of Justice Sunshine Week Celebration, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington

The Justice Department will celebrate Sunshine Week with a program from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. with Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, DOJ’s chief FOIA officer, who will lead a discussion of federal agencies’ improvements in FOIA administration since Attorney General Eric Holder’s guidelines were issued during Sunshine Week 2009. The event is open to agency personnel and the public, and picture ID will be required to enter the building. Register via email to DOJ.OIP.FOIA@usdoj.gov with the subject line “Sunshine Week.” For more information, see the DOJ website.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

  • Open Government in the Second Term, Center for Effective Government and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Washington, DC

The Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) and EPIC will host two panel discussions from 1-3 p.m. examining transparency and national security issues in the Obama administration’s second term. The first panel will be moderated by Katherine McFate, president and CEO, Center for Effective Government; and panelists will include Corinna Zarek, Office of Government Information Services; Krista Boyd, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; and Lisa Ellman, Office of Science and Technology Policy (invited). The second panel, moderated by Ginger McCall, director of EPIC’s Open Government Project, will include Tom Blanton, National Security Archive; Steve Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists; Scott Rosenthal, Sen. Jeff Merkley’s Office; Jim Harper, CATO Institute (invited). The event is free and open to the public and will be webcast at http://www.foreffectivegov.org/webcasts. For more information and to RSVP to attend in person or watch the webcast, go to the Center’s online form.

  • FOIA: Today’s Challenges and Tomorrow’s Opportunities, Congressional Transparency Caucus, Washington, DC

The Congressional Transparency Caucus will hold a 3 p.m. discussion in the House Rayburn Office Building on FOIA reform and what needs to be done to improve access to government records. Moderated by Sunlight Foundation Policy Counsel Daniel Schuman, the panel will include Office of Government Information Services Director Miriam Nisbet; Sunshine in Government Initiative Coordinator Rick Blum; Center for Effective Polciy Open Government Policy Analyst Gavin Baker; and Washington Examiner Investigative Reporter Rickard Pollock. The event is open to anyone, including Hill staff and interns. To RSVP, email Robyn Russell in the office of Co-chair Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), or Ali Ahmad who works with Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). For more information, see the event invitation (PDF).

  • Anti-terrorism Laws and Press Freedom, National Press Club, Washington, DC

The National Press Club’s Freedom of the Press Committee will hold a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. about the effect of laws enacted globally after Sept. 11, 2001 on press freedom. The panel will be moderated by NPC Press Freedom Committee Vice Chair Rachel Oswald, and panelists will include: Mohamed Keita, Africa advocacy coordinator for the Committee to Project Journalists; Frank Jannuzi, deputy executive director of advocacy, policy and research for Amnesty International USA; and Mark Feldstein, professor of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. The event is free and open to the public, although registration is requested. For more information and to register, go to the Press Club website.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 

Representatives Issa and Cummings of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, and cosignatories of the February 4 letter to OIP.

Representatives Issa and Cummings of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.

  • Addressing Transparency in the Federal Bureaucracy: Moving Toward A More Open Government, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on open government issues beginning at 10 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building. Witnesses will be announced soon. For more information see, the Committee’s website.

  • We the People: Fulfilling the Promise of Open Government Five Years After The OPEN Government Act, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, DC

At 10:30 a.m. in the Dirksen building, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing looking at the OPEN Government Act and freedom of information issues. Government witnesses will include Melanie Pustay, director of the Office of Information Policy, Department of Justice; and Miriam Nisbet, director of the Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration. Additional witnesses are expected to be announced. Watch the Judiciary Committee’s website for more information.

  • OLC Memoranda: Does U.S. Secret Law Threaten Our Democracy? Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and The George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC

From 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the GWU Law School in Washington, legal, media, academic and government experts on two panels will discuss the government’s use of secret opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel in the war on terrorism and whether such secrecy is justified. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will present the opening remarks. See the event flier PDF for more information.

Thursday, March 14, 2013            

  • Secrecy and Security: The Future of Classification Reform, The Brennan Center for Justice, Washington, DC

The Brennan Center will host a panel discussion March 14 from 12-1:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. Panelists will include Nancy Soderberg, chair of the Public Interest Declassification Board; Robert S. Litt, general counsel, Office of the Director of National Intelligence; former Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, J. William Leonard; Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy, Federation of American Scientists; and Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. More details will be available soon on the Brennan Center website.

  • How to Use the Freedom of Information Act, National Press Club, Washington, DC

As part of its Sunshine Week observances, the National Press Club will offer a panel discussion on using FOIA, moderated by Rick Dunham of the Houston Chronicle. Panelists will include Charles Babcock of Bloomberg News, Randy Rabinowitz from the Center for Effective Government, and Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation. The event is free to club members, $10 for non-members, and it is open to the public. For more information, see the NPC announcement.

  • Sunshine Week Meeting of the FOIA IT Working Group, Office of Information Policy, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington

The OIP will convene a meeting at the Justice Department from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. of the FOIA IT Working Group, comprised of federal agency FOIA and technology professionals. Also invited to participate are technology specialists from civil society organizations and open government groups. Registration is required. More information is available from The FOIA Post.

Friday, March 15, 2013  

  • National Freedom of Information Day, First Amendment Center, Newseum, Washington, DC

The daylong 15th annual National Freedom of Information Day conference will be held at the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum in Washington. In morning sessions, OpenTheGovernment.org will present its 8th annual Sunshine Week examination of the state of openness in the federal government, focusing this year on outlook for the president’s second term. Also on the day’s agenda: a keynote discussion with First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams; a discussion of the new documentary, “Whistleblowers”; the American Library Association will present its James Madison Award. There is no charge to attend, but attendees are encouraged to register in advance to guarantee seating. A PDF of the full agenda is on the Openthegovernment.org site. For registration information, see the Freedom of Information Day announcement.

  • Luncheon and Speaker Thomas Drake, National Press Club, Washington, DC

The National Press Club will host former National Security Agency analyst Thomas Drake, a government whistleblower charged under the Espionage Act, at a luncheon beginning at 12:30 p.m., followed by Drake’s remarks and a question-and-answer period. Tickets are $21 for members (limit 2) and $35 for non-members.For more information and to make reservations, visit the Press Club website.

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