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  • National FOIA Hall of Fame

    National FOI Day is an annual, daylong program of speaking and discussion by specialists in various aspects of freedom of information, updating developments in FOI over the preceding year.


    2008 National FOI Day Conference

  • Sunshine Week events
  • This year’s conference, “Toward a More Open Government: Opportunities & Obstacles,” was held on Friday, March 14, in the Freedom Forum’s Newseum, located at 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., in the nation’s capital. (The Newseum will formally open April 11.)

    Ronald Collins

    The 10th annual conference, hosted by the First Amendment Center, included noted keynote speakers; more than a dozen national experts discussing new amendments to the federal Freedom of Information Act and access to critical infrastructure information; and presentation of the American Library Association’s annual James Madison awards.

    “In these times of unparalleled secrecy, the ideal of open government is under siege. Hence, the need for a collaborative effort to correct this political malady is great,” said conference host and organizer Ronald Collins of the First Amendment Center. “We are therefore proud to make our contribution to Sunshine Week and to do what we can to further the idea that open government is the best government, the fairest government and the government most likely to honor the right of the people to self-rule.”

    The FOI Day Conference, which brought together access advocates, government officials, lawyers, librarians, journalists, educators and others, was co-sponsored by Sunshine Week and held in cooperation with the American Library Association, OpenTheGovernment.org, the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government and the Sunshine in Government Initiative.

    “One of the most notable aspects of the program Ron Collins assembled this year was that it was able to attract, in near equal numbers, attendees both from the FOI community making requests and from those offices in government agencies responsible for handling those FOI requests,” said Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center. “It’s the exchange of views, from all sides, that makes FOI Day special, year after year.”

    2008 program agenda

    Remarks

    Conference speakers’ bios

    Conference coverage

    For information from previous National FOI Day programs, see cases & resources.


    FOI Day history

    The idea of a National FOI Day to be observed on March 16 in honor of James Madison’s birthday emerged in the late 1970s. For a number of years, the National Press Club hosted a FOI program on different dates, but that program became subsumed by other interests in the early 1990s.

    In 1993, Paul McMasters convened a “National Freedom of Information Summit” at the First Amendment Center in Nashville, bringing together most of the major players on FOI, right to know and government secrecy. That two-day conference resulted in a report titled “Battling for an Open Government.”

    In 1996, working with the American Society of Newspaper Editors, McMasters convened another summit at the Freedom Forum on FOIA’s 30th anniversary called “Sunshine & Secrecy: The FOIA Turns 30.”

    The first official National FOI Day conference was held at the Freedom Forum on March 16, 1999, and has continued ever since.

    Related

    'We're in a new era of secrecy'

    By Taylor Holliday National FOI Day conference speakers weigh national security, public's right to know. 03.18.04

    Nationwide information clampdown frustrates average citizens
    Security, privacy fears tip balance against Freedom of Information Act presumption that government records should be open to public. 03.13.05

    2005 National FOI Day conference
    Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Floyd Abrams to speak at event on 'Congress and the Courts: Confronting Secrecy.' 03.15.05

    Openness must govern government, Sen. Cornyn says
    By Eugenia Harris Democracy requires 'informed consent' afforded by open government, Texas Republican tells conference. 03.17.05

    Access faces formidable foe in privacy fears
    By Eugenia Harris FOI Day panelists wrangle with what sorts of information should be readily available to public. 03.18.05

    FOIA advocates named to national hall of fame
    News release Twenty-one champions of open government to be inducted on National FOI Day, March 16. 03.08.06

    Challenge to government: Stop shutting off info
    By Eugenia Harris Former State Department spokesman Hodding Carter charges journalists to work harder against official secrecy. 03.16.06

    President's open-records order: working or worse?
    By Eugenia Harris Panelists debate whether effect of executive order helps or hinders freedom of information. 03.16.06

    U.S. makes seized Iraqi documents public
    Netizens trawling through huge trove being posted bit by bit on Pentagon Web site. 03.28.06

    FOI Day 2007
    News release Ninth annual conference will bring together more than a dozen nationally known speakers to discuss latest issues in access to government information. 02.19.07

    Weinstein, McMasters headline FOI Day
    News release U.S. archivist, First Amendment expert, others examine 'Access: Oversight & Priorities.' 03.15.07

    Archivist: We're restoring records access
    By Eugenia Harris Allen Weinstein discusses National Archives' reclassification project. 03.16.07

    James Madison Award goes to Paul McMasters
    By Nikki Troia Long-time First Amendment advocate wins honor for championing public's right to know. 03.16.07

    Probe classified documents, reporter urges
    By Nikki Troia Washington Post's Dana Priest tells FOI Day panel classifications are so overused as to be meaningless. 03.16.07

    Bush presidency: accent on secrecy, panelists say
    By Eugenia Harris 1966 FOIA law 'hasn’t been completely integrated and accepted by the federal government,' says Meredith Fuchs, National Security Archive. 03.16.07

    McMasters decries current culture of secrecy
    By Nikki Troia Accepting James Madison Award, McMasters blasts clampdown on government information by Bush administration. 03.16.07

    Senator stalls FOI bill, drawing ire of open-government backers
    Arizona Republican Jon Kyl raises objections to measure that would plug loopholes in Freedom of Information Act. 06.01.07

    Declassified intelligence budget faces new secrecy effort
    Just after president signed bill requiring disclosure of how much nation spends on CIA, related agencies, House accepts amendment that would withhold that information from public again. 08.08.07

    When secrecy can make us less secure
    By Nikki Troia Assailing secretive policymaking, ex-ISOO head J. William Leonard suggests way to balance security, disclosure. Speech 03.14.08

    New FOI bill signals renewed push for sunshine
    By Eugenia Harris FOI Day panelists say 2007 open-government law was first step; newly introduced measure in Senate is sign of reforms to come. 03.17.08

    Safety of bridges, dams and mines: an FOI issue
    By Nikki Troia Panel on infrastructure explores how greater openness of government information could save lives. 03.17.08

    AP chief: Press should quiz candidates on open government
    Tom Curley praises passage of updated FOIA but chides Bush administration efforts that he says undercut the measure. 03.20.08

    Audit finds Bush order barely trims FOIA backlog
    'Behind its ambitious facade, the order lacked both carrot and stick,' states National Security Archive report. 03.21.08

    2005 FOI update: federal legislation
    Update on FOI-related congressional legislation over the past year for 2005 National FOI Day conference. 03.15.05

    ‘Strange Bedfellows: Reconciling Privacy & Freedom of Information’
    Speech by Lee Levine at National FOI Day conference, March 16, 2005. 03.16.05

    National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame

    ‘FOI and the Consent of the Governed’
    Speech by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, at National FOI Day conference, March 16, 2005. 03.17.05

    'My first two years: access issues at the National Archives'
    Speech by Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein at National FOI Day Conference, March 16, 2007. 03.23.07

    'Surge in secrecy: Democracy’s incremental disaster'
    Speech by Paul K. McMasters at National FOI Day Conference, March 16, 2007. 03.27.07


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    Last system update: Friday, March 21, 2008 | 11:56:31
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