Sunshine Week 2011

This week, public interest groups, media organizations, government agencies, and citizens celebrate Sunshine Week and the Annual Freedom of Information Day. As part of Sunshine Week the White House has launched a new “Good Government” portal as a resource for citizens. At public events and congressional hearings this week, leadership of the National Archives — including myself — are participating in the dialogue around open government and freedom of information.

At the National Archives, open government is an ongoing commitment to strengthen transparency, participation, and collaboration in order to better serve the American people.

The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives is an important symbol of both the Obama Administration’s commitment to Open Government and Congress’s vision of a better Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). OGIS serves the American people by providing mediation services to resolve FOIA disputes as well as reviewing agencies’ FOIA policies, procedures, and compliance. Their role is to advocate for the proper administration of the Freedom of Information Act itself.

For Sunshine Week, I encourage you to read the recently released OGIS report, “The First Year: Building Bridges Between FOIA Requesters and Federal Agencies,” as well as check out the Department of Justice’s new FOIA website.


Sunshine Week is also an opportunity to discuss the improvements we’ve made in your ability to access the records of your government within the holdings of the National Archives. The cornerstone of the work we do every day is the belief that you have the right to see, examine, and learn from the records that document the actions of your Government. In the 21st century, it is crucial that we continually improve online access to these records.

Through the flagship initiative of our Open Government Plan, we have made significant improvements in how you access government records online — we redesigned with public participation to be more user focused; we launched a new search interface, Online Public Access; and we have released a free mobile app, “Today’s Document” which highlights a document from the National Archives every day. We are reaching out and providing our records where you want to find them — on blogs, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Twitter, and YouTube. We’ve also sought to increase our transparency in the way we engage in social media as an agency by publishing our Social Media Strategy, policies, terms of service agreements, and statistics.

Our Open Government webpage serves as the gateway for you to learn about all of our initiatives that strengthen transparency, participation, and collaboration.

Tomorrow, I will participate in an event sponsored by and hosted at the Center for American Progress called, “The Road Forward on Open Government.” I encourage you to participate in the dialogue by learning more about the event or watching the webcast on March 18, 2011 from 12:00-1:30.

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