U.S. Sunshine Week Brings Reports, Hearings, Meetings

19 March 2012

Sunshine Week in the United States is the time when many organizations announce studies on various facets of access to information, Congress holds hearings on the FOIA, conferences are held and editorials are written.

Debate continued this year on the adequacy of the Obama administration’s record on transparency.

Lauren Harper of the National Security Archive prepared a comprehensive round-up of all the activity, which included testimony by the Justice Department.

A long blog post in The Dissenter by Kevin Gosztola also highlighted the week’s activity, including a comprehensive report by the Associated Press.

The White House had its own spin on the Obama record in a blog post.

The  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report on federal agency’s FOIA administration, as described in Information Week.  The committee gave agencies a C- score overall. A public interest group also released related information.

American University’s Washington College of Law hosted a day-long forum on FOIA, available on C-Span. Susan B. Long, co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University and this year’s recipient of the Robert Vaughn FOIA Legend Award awas the keynote speaker.

Richard L. Huff, co-founder of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy, presented a historical overview of FOIA. Other sessions looked at the progress of the Office of Government Information Services and survey high-visibility FOIA cases making their way through the courts, FOIA issues in the 112th Congress and the use, or over-use, of “Exemption 3,” which allows other federal statues to limit the release of information sought in FOIA requests.

In Following the Money 2012: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, researchers at the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) graded all 50 states on how well they provide online access to information about government spending. States were given “A” to “F” grades based on the characteristics of the online transparency systems they have created to provide information on contracts, subsidies and spending at quasi-public agencies.

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