March 10-16, 2013 is Sunshine Week, a time to reflect on the state of public access to government information and work together to make our government more transparent. In celebration of Sunshine Week, AALL is cosponsoring the 2013 National Freedom of Information Day discussion on open government in the Obama Administration. You can participate by watching the webcast.
AALL also contributed to two new reports released this month is honor of Sunshine Week. The first, “Highlighted Best Practices for Open and Accountable Government,” offers examples of model federal government transparency and accountability practices. The goal of the report is to encourage agencies to learn from each other to find ways to make their operations more transparent. For example, under “Proactive Release of Agency Operations,” the reports commends the Department of State, Department of Commerce, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), General Services Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for making their staff directories easily accessible online. The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) prepared the report, with contributions from AALL, Bauman Foundation, Brennan Center for Justice, Center for Effective Government, OpenTheGovernment.org, Sunlight Foundation, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
The second report, “Civil Society Report on Implementation of the First US National Action Plan,” is the result of a years-long evaluation of the White House’s National Action Plan on open government. OpenTheGovernment.org organized teams to evaluate specific issues in the plan and work with the government leads. AALL served on the Freedom of Information Act, Records Management and OpenGov Implementation Teams. The report provides an assessment of the government’s completion of the commitment, collaboration with the public, responsiveness of the government to recommendations made by civil society organizations and meaningfulness and sustainability of the government’s efforts. Overall, the evaluators determined that the government met its promises in 19 of the 25 commitments.