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Start Planning for Sunshine Week

February 2, 2010

For those of you who can’t get enough discussion about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Open Government issues, I wanted to let you know about several events in March.

March 14-21, 2010, is Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of the FOIA and government transparency.  During Sunshine week, print, broadcast and online news media, as well as civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know, host and participate in a series of events that recognize the importance of open government.

In addition, this year the American Society of Newspaper Editors will honor individuals who fought tirelessly last year to make their state or local public institutions more open and accessible.  You can nominate someone by completing a brief form on the Sunshine Week Web site and uploading supporting materials. The deadline for nominations is Friday, Feb. 26.

The events kick off on March 15, with the national FOIA Day Conference hosted by the FreedomForum at the Newseum.  This is typically a lively event with advocates, government officials, judges, lawyers, librarians, journalists, and educators from across the country.

The next day, March 16, there is an all day conference on law and policy hosted by the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at the American University Washington College of Law.  This FOIA Day program includes a keynote speech by John Podesta President of the Center for American Progress, and substantive panels on FOIA litigation, controlled unclassified information (CUI), backlog reduction under the Open Government Directive, and more.

The last major national event of which I am aware is the Building Transparency Webcast hosted by OpenTheGovernment.org, which you can see live at the Center for American Progress or watch at your desk on your computer.  It will include three panels.  One that includes Norm Eisen, Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, which will focus on the White House’s efforts to imbed transparency in the system by, in part, requiring each agency to develop an open government plan, and post open government pages.  The second panel will include Miriam Nisbet, Director of the new Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), who will discuss how recent changes to law and policy affect a citizen’s ability to request and receive information from the federal government.  The third panel will include developers and advocates who will discuss how they use government information like the data on Data.gov to make a difference for the public.

We hope you will take some time during the week of March 14 to learn more and help us celebrate the Freedom of Information Act.

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