Welcome Remarks at Sunshine Week Event
Welcome to the National Archives and Records Administration!
It is my pleasure to kick off Sunshine Week this year.
Sunshine Week is a national initiative launched over a decade ago by the American Society of News Editors to bring attention to the importance of access to public records in our democracy. The National Archives is a fitting home for honoring the birth week of James Madison, the “father of [our] Constitution,” and I invite you to view the original document two levels above us in the Rotunda.
This location is also an important reminder that the National Archives not only contributes, but serves, as a leader in “open government.”
Each year over one million visitors come here to see the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights on permanent display. Thanks to the internet and our ability to digitize documents, access to these critical pieces of our nation’s history is no longer limited to an in-person visit. Today, people around the world can see and interact with our Constitution without ever having to walk through our doors.
Since I became the Archivist of the United States in 2009, the National Archives made and delivered on close to 200 specific commitments in our agency open government plans, including
…modernized our records management guidance;
…helped improve the administration of the Freedom of Information Act;
…streamlined the declassification process;
…increased the impact of open innovation activities;
Today’s program was organized by the Office of Government Information Services m or OGIS. As the FOIA Ombudsman, OGIS has a natural home within the National Archives. they resolve FOIA disputes, identify methods to improve compliance with the statute, and educate stakeholders about the FOIA process.
Thank you, Alina, and to the staff of OGiS, for making this happen. And to OGIS’s founding Director, Miriam Nisbet, for once again coming back to moderate one of today’s panels. I also want to thank today’s panelists for participating.
At this time, I will turn the program over to OGIS’s Director, Alina Semo, to give you a preview of today’s program.
Senator Leahy Introduction (following program break)
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all back, and it is my great honor to welcome a true champion of FOIA and the public’s right to know, Senator Patrick Leahy, to offer today’s keynote address. This will be the second time that Senator Leahy has joined us to mark Sunshine Week, and I want to thank him and his staff for their support of our program.
Senator Leahy, who ranks first in seniority in the senate, was elected to the Senate in 1974 to represent his home state of Vermont. He is the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and is the senior-most member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.
Senator Leahy is the Senate’s leading champion of open government and of the FOIA, and he was instrumental in the creation of OGIS. In 1996, Senator Leahy was installed in the FOIA Hall of Fame in recognition of his efforts. We are very grateful to Senator Leahy for his guidance and leadership in this area, and we look forward to hearing his thoughts on FOIA’s past, present and future.
Please help me welcome my friend, Senator Patrick Leahy.