Sunshine Week 2011 and Our Ongoing Commitment to Open Government

This week is “Sunshine Week.”  Led by the American Society of News Editors and originally funded by the Knight Foundation, Sunshine Week is observed by media organizations around the country. It coincides with National Freedom of Information Day—March 16—selected to fall on James Madison’s birthday.  Journalists, good-government groups, transparency advocates, educators, and many others interested in government transparency host events throughout the week to promote open government and freedom of information. They do so to assess the extent to which government is truly open, and to encourage citizens to seek information from their government and participate in public affairs. 

Sunshine Week provides an ideal time to recount the Administration’s many open government successes since last March.  And so each day this week, we will identify various ways in which agencies have made our government more open and, in turn, more democratic and more efficient. On Monday, the Department of Justice launched FOIA.gov, and we reviewed some of the substantial progress agencies across the government have made to disclose more and withhold less. We will recount, among other things, how greater transparency has saved government resources, and how technology and openness have been fused in ways that improve the everyday lives of our citizens.  We will also feature the enormous work many agencies have done over the past year to make government more open and foster public participation.  As the examples are too numerous to catalogue here, I encourage you to visit agencies’ own Open Government websites, which feature their recent successes.

Open government is a commitment, though, not a task. Thus the Administration’s efforts to promote open government are, as they should be, still ongoing. Nor is greater transparency desirable in every case and circumstance. Our government also owes its citizens, among other things, protection of their personal privacy and business confidentiality, effective law enforcement, and a strong national defense.  That understood, the Administration’s commitment to open government, and the great progress it has made so far, are unmistakable.

Steve Croley is Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy
Related Topics: Ethics, Working Families
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