On Friday, March 16th, the American Library Association hosted its annual “Freedom of Information Day” Conference at the Newseum in downtown Washington, DC as part of Sunshine Week. The annual conference is held to celebrate the birth of James Madison, who is regarded as the Father of the Constitution and the foremost advocate for openness in government.
As a partner to the FOIA community, AINS attended this annual event to learn about the current state of Freedom of Information in the U.S. The conference agenda included a keynote address from former University of Virginia President Robert O’ Neil, as well as a discussion on FOI and international trade negotiations. One of the highlights was the panelist discussion entitled “Whistleblowers & the Press: Roles and risks in divulging information needed for accountable government” with representatives from the SEC, the Pentagon, and the Office of Public Affairs for the Department of justice. The panel discussed some of the controversial relationships between mass media outlets and government agencies.
In the end, this event offered a platform for FOIA professionals at different levels to discuss, listen, and offer opinions on the state of FOI and government transparency. Among the many awards for service and accomplishments in the area of Freedom of Information, 22 scholarships were given to students in the’Free to Tweet’competition.