Solar flare reminds us: Sunshine Week’s almost here

Scientists who study the sun note the massive solar flare hitting earth on March 8 is part of the sun’s natural cycle, however we’re pretty certain it’s celebrating Sunshine Week, which starts on Sunday, March 11. Started by the American Society of News Editors and now coordinated jointly between ASNE and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (both SGI members), Sunshine Week is a celebration encouraging greater public appreciation of open government. Government transparency is an essential value for democracy, but perhaps more importantly it plays a more practical role ensuring our leaders are doing what they say [More]

Sunshine Week 2012

Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of open government, will be held March 11-17, 2012.  The week coincides with the birthday of James Madison (March 16th). Initiated and sponsored for years by the American Society of News Editors, this year Sunshine Week is a collaboration between ASNE and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In the past, journalists have conducted audits of FOI laws, policymakers write opinion pieces, editorial cartoonists contribute works for broad distribution, interest groups sponsor programs, and Congress holds a hearing or two to push bills or take stock of where we are with government transparency.

FOIA Oversight in the House

SGI Coordinator Rick Blum testified about FOIA’s capabilities and constraints at a full meeting of the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform, as one of several witnesses at “The Freedom of Information Act: Crowd-Sourcing Government Oversight. Joining Blum on the panel were Miriam Nisbet, director of the Office of Government Information Services, Dan Metcalfe, executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy, Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, and Angela Canterbury, Director of Public Policy at the Project on Government Oversight. Chairman Darrell Issa framed several issues early and quickly by suggesting that FOIA should expand, but ultimately become [More]

OGIS announces annual report, new blog

Our friends at the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) are expanding the office’s online presence with a new blog, “The FOIA Ombudsman: Information and Advice”. Although the office and its staff have been busy with Sunshine Week activities, they have also found time to release their first annual office report: “The First Year: Building Bridges Between FOIA Requesters and Federal Agencies”. The report shows the office working to integrate statutory directions, practical expectations, and competing policy priorities as it strives to help both requesters and agencies use FOIA more efficiently and effectively.

Advocates, officials discuss sunshine measures

Here’s a brief summary of testimony by witnesses at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning on the Freedom of Information Act.  Our appreciation to Chairman Patrick Leahy for holding the hearing (and adjusting the schedule to avoid conflicting with “FOI Day” at the Freedom Forum).

This week’s forecast: Sunshine!

Update: SGI coordinator Rick Blum will be testifying before Darrell Issa & the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Thursday, March 17 on FOIA. It’s Sunshine Week!  Yes, for the next seven days, the Sunshine in Government Initiative will join many other groups, journalists, activists, and citizens in celebrating Sunshine Week, from March 13-19, with a variety of events and activities designed to raise awareness of our efforts to improve the availability of government information for the public. Monday, March 14 Freedom of Information Day Celebration (9:30 AM, Collaboration on Government Secrecy) Lobbying reform panel discussion (2:00 PM, [More]

Senate to Hold Sunshine Week FOIA Hearing

Longtime FOIA supporter and open-government leader Senator Patrick Leahy has announced the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a FOIA oversight hearing during Sunshine Week, “The Freedom of Information Act: Ensuring Transparency and Accountability in the Digital Age”. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from witnesses with experience in government and as requesters. The hearing, set for Tuesday, March 15 at 10:15 AM (226 Dirksen), will feature two panels: Panel I: Miriam Nisbet Director, Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) National Archives and Records Administration College Park, Maryland Melanie Pustay Director, Office of Information Policy Department of Justice Washington, D.C. Panel [More]