OGIS Sunshine Week
Archivist’s welcome remarks for
OGIS Sunshine Week event
Monday, March 13, 2017
Good afternoon, and welcome to the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States.
It is my pleasure to be celebrating Sunshine Week with you again this year. This is the fifth year in a row that I have marked the occasion of Sunshine Week and the importance of FOIA and open government at the National Archives, and the second year in a row that I have welcomed an audience into the William G. McGowan Theater to help us celebrate open government.
The National Archives is the appropriate location for this celebration and it is fitting that this takes place during the birth week of James Madison, our nation’s father "of the Constitution,” in an auditorium just a few hundred feet away from the original document.
The National Archives makes access happen.
In recent years technology has drastically changed what it means to make access happen: Thanks to the internet and our ability to digitize documents, people around the world can view and interact with our constitution without ever having to walk through our doors.
I invite you to visit the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights in the Rotunda after the program or during the break.
When I became the Archivist of the United States in 2009, I was excited to have the opportunity to help create a government that is more open and responsive to the public we are intended to serve.
And I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished in the last 8 years…
…we modernized our records management guidance;
…we helped improve the administration of FOIA;
…we streamlined the declassification process;
…we increased the impact of open innovation activities;
…and much more.
One of the areas that I want to continue to explore – and that I am looking forward to discussing with the Librarian of Congress in just a few minutes – is how we engage the public with our records and how we recruit the public to help us expand access.
Today’s event is organized by the Office of Government Information Services. As the FOIA ombudsman’s office, OGIS has a natural home within the National Archives.
Since opening its doors in 2009, OGIS resolved FOIA disputes between agencies and requesters, and established a compliance program that helps agencies identify ways to improve their FOIA processes.
A few months ago, Alina Semo took over the role of the Director of OGIS - I know her decades of experience with FOIA will be an asset to the office.
We have an exciting program in store for you today.
We will begin today’s program with a discussion between me and the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, about the critical roles our institutions play in preserving our nation’s treasures, and how we can expand access to our holdings.
Afterwards we will be joined by noted experts and advocates for the FOIA.
We have pre-recorded remarks from the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. My gratitude goes out to Chairman Chaffetz and Representative Cummings for taking the time to help us mark this occasion, and I am pleased to see continued bipartisan support for FOIA. It is worth noting that Representatives Chaffetz and Cummings worked across the aisle and with their colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee to champion the recent successful effort to update the FOIA – passing the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.
And finally we have a panel highlighting how technologists, including people here at the National Archives, are using technology to put the government at your fingertips.
I want to thank Tom Susman, the Director of Governmental Affairs at the American Bar Association, for bringing together a fascinating group of people to take a look at the first fifty years of FOIA. I also want to welcome back OGIS’s founding Director, Miriam Nisbet, and thank her for moderating our other panel.
Without further ado, I’ll turn the program back over to Alina to introduce Dr. Carla Hayden.