Each year, Sunshine Week honors and promotes a dialogue about the importance of open government and access to information—values that are central to the mission of the National Archives and Records Administration.
I can’t think of a better place to be celebrating Sunshine Week than here at the National Archives, because we not only contribute, but serve as a leader in open government. This year’s celebration of information access began with an event on Monday, March 11, where I was fortunate to host a special one-on-one conversation with Beryl A. Howell, Chief Justice of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Our discussion on the role of the Freedom of Information Act, open government, transparency, and the legal landscape was sponsored by the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS).
Other highlights of the day included opening remarks by U.S. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, and closing remarks by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Both lawmakers have had a role in the evolution of FOIA and shared their views on its role in an open and accessible government. We also hosted a discussion panel, moderated by Thomas M. Susman, Director of Governmental Affairs for the American Bar Association and Founding President of the D.C. Open Government Coalition, looking at “OGIS @ 10: Past/Present/Future.” A second panel, moderated by Jason Baron, Of Counsel, Information Governance and eDiscovery Group, Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, explored the topic “Looking into the Crystal Ball: How Will Electronic Recordkeeping in Government Agencies Change over the Next 10 Years?”
More information about this event and participants is available on our Sunshine Week website. My conversation with Judge Howell, as well as the other panels and discussions from the event are now available to watch on the National Archives YouTube channel.
Throughout Sunshine Week, the National Archives is also sponsoring a special citizen archivist mission focusing on transcription of two historically important civil rights cases held at the National Archives at Atlanta: Browder V. Gayle, which contains documents resulting from a Federal court suit that challenged segregation within Montgomery, Alabama’s public transportation system, and Williams V. Wallace, a lawsuit that was pivotal in inspiring Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Citizen Archivist Dashboard offers more information on how to engage in the transcription challenge.
You can find other events throughout the government celebrating Sunshine Week 2019 on the Sunshine Week’s Event Calendar. To learn more about OGIS’s work, visit their web page or follow the FOIA Ombudsman blog.