Celebrating Sunshine Week 2014
by Leslie Haymon, 3/14/2014
Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of government openness and transparency, will be held next week, from March 16-22. Leading up to and during the week, events are held nationwide to highlight transparency in government. There are legislative hearings, film screenings, public discussions, editorials, reports published, and awards recognizing those who have advanced government openness and transparency.
About Sunshine Week
In 2002, Florida newspapers launched Sunshine Sunday as single day to highlight the importance of government transparency. The event went nationwide and week-long in 2005 with the support of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). The week corresponds with James Madison's birthday; Madison is considered the Founder most committed to creating a government of checks and balances. Good government organizations, including the Center for Effective Government, partner with ASNE each year to present Sunshine Week.
The Lead Up
This year, Congress is scheduled to be in recess during Sunshine Week, so several events have already taken place. On Monday, March 10, the Center for Effective Government released its first scorecard grading key federal agencies' performance implementing the Freedom of Information Act. On March 11, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Freedom of Information Act, and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Al Franken (D-MN) both referred to our scorecard in their comments. On March 14, OpenTheGovernment.org and the Freedom Forum hosted the National Freedom of Information Day conference.
Sunshine Week 2014
There are still plenty of events planned for next week. If you are able to attend them in person, they are well worth your time. Here are some highlights:
Monday, March 17
The Justice Department will present a program at its Washington headquarters celebrating the progress made by federal agencies in FOIA administration, as well as the fifth anniversary of the attorney general's FOIA guidelines. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.
Tuesday, March 18
The Collaboration on Government Secrecy's (CGS) seventh annual Freedom of Information Day Celebration will feature panel discussions to explore current issues related to FOIA, including surveillance secrecy, classification developments, and privacy. For more details, visit CGS' website.
Also on Tuesday, open government groups are hosting an evening panel discussion from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the National Press Club entitled "Partly Cloudy: Why 'Public Information' Doesn't Always = Accessible Information." Admission is free, but registration is required.
Wednesday, March 19
The D.C. Open Government Coalition's third annual D.C. Open Government Summit will focus on open government in neighborhoods and communities. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the National Press Club. The event is open to the public; registration and information are available on the coalition's website.
Thursday, March 20
The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) will host a panel discussion on lobbying disclosure, campaign finance disclosure, and dark money at the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C. The program will be held from 2-5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Registration and additional details are available via CRP's website.
Friday, March 21
JFK Vigil will screen the film JFK: A President Betrayed at the Goethe-Institute in Washington, D.C. A discussion of the film will be held following the screening. The suggested donation is $15, and registration and additional information are available here.