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The Freedom of Information Act serves a vital function by providing everyone with a way to know what the government is up to.
As the Supreme Court has explained, the FOIA “defines a structural necessity in a real democracy.” State-level public access statutes achieve the same result; transparency is as important at the local level as it is in Washington, D.C.
The path to widespread recognition of the importance of openness in government has been a long one.
Congress only passed the FOIA in 1966, replacing the far less robust disclosure provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act. And Congress has occasionally amended the FOIA to account for technological developments.
At the same time, the effectiveness of the FOIA is not without criticism. Despite the imperfection of our federal transparency regime, the FOIA and other transparency laws have had a transformational effect on civic society. This year’s Sunshine Week Symposium (March 13–17) will explore this notion as its participants discuss how the FOIA has made a positive and lasting impact on American political culture and the legal landscape.
AFP Foundation prioritizes working alongside partners to educate Americans to understand the importance of transparency. Our hope is that this symposium will empower everyone to understand the importance — and the power — of openness in government.
On each day of Sunshine Week, AFPF will publish one or two thought-provoking essays. Check back on this page to find the links to all the contributions! On Thursday, March 16, our essayists will come together in a virtual webinar to respond to each other and to answer your questions.
Register here for the March 16 webinar.
This year’s essayists represent a selection of respected leaders with years of experience working toward government accountability and transparency. They each bring differing views and ideas to the table. That sort of intellectual diversity is an important part of finding ideal solutions and building an open society where the marketplace of ideas is respected.
Our participants include:
Read exclusive essays from previous symposia below:
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