Each year, Sunshine Week honors and promotes a dialogue about the importance of open government, access to information, and unnecessary secrecy—values that are central to the mission of the National Archives and Records Administration.
More than 100 years ago, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote: “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant. If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.” I like to think that we celebrate Sunshine Week every week at the National Archives.
This year, I am pleased to kick off Sunshine Week with a conversation alongside Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, moderated by Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, a generous supporter of both the National Archives and the Library of Congress.
The conversation will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, March 14, and will be live-streamed on the National Archives YouTube Channel. Dr. Hayden and I discussed accessing our nation’s treasures during the 2017 celebration of Sunshine Week at the National Archives. So much has changed in the five years since—a global pandemic, civil unrest, and renewed societal interest in issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion.
If you have suggested questions for the panel discussion, please tweet them to @FOIA_ombuds using the hashtag #SunshineWeek.
We have also invited U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the US District Court for the District of Columbia to join us for this celebration of FOIA. Sen. Leahy’s and Judge Howell’s mark on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) dates back to the 1974 amendments to the law, which provides a right of access to federal agency records. Several short videos on the meaning of open government and transparency also will be featured.
This will be my last Sunshine Week as Archivist of the United States before I retire in April. We hope you’ll join us! View the livestream on the National Archives’ YouTube Channel.
More information about this year’s event is available on the Sunshine Week website. To learn more about OGIS’s work, visit their web page or follow the FOIA Ombudsman blog.