National Archives to Host Sunshine Week Panel on Artificial Intelligence and Government Access
Press Release · Thursday, February 22, 2024

Washington, DC

Yellow sun graphic with words Sunshine Week 2024 and the National Archives logoThe National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will host a panel discussion on “Artificial Intelligence: The Intersection of Public Access and Open Government'' Thursday, March 14, at 1 p.m. ET. This program is being offered during Sunshine Week, an annual nationwide celebration of access to public information.  The event will be in person at the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and livestreamed on the National Archives YouTube Channel.   

No reservation is necessary to attend this event in person. The panel discussion will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Attendees can enter through on the Constitution Avenue side of the building. 

Pamela Wright, NARA’s Chief Innovation Officer, will moderate a panel of open government and transparency experts who will discuss artificial intelligence and how it intersects with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and access to information. Panelists include Gulam Shakir, NARA’s Chief Data Officer; Abigail Potter, Senior Innovation Specialist at the Library of Congress Digital Innovation Lab; Eric Stein, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Global Information Services at the U.S. Department of State; and Bobak Talebian, Director of the Office of Information Policy of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Immediately following the program, the National Archives will make available for viewing documents related to the Freedom of Information Act. 

More about past Sunshine Week at the National Archives programs is available here:

Moderator and Speakers: 

Pamela Wright became NARA’s first Chief Innovation Officer in December 2012. She leads staff responsible for agency-wide projects and programs in the following areas: innovation, digitization, web, social media, online description, and online public engagement. Ms. Wright previously served as the agency's Chief Digital Access Strategist (2009–2011), where she pulled together the web, social media, and online catalog staff into an award-winning integrated team for improved online public access, and as the manager of the Archival Research Catalog (2005–2008), where she led staff responsible for developing and implementing policies, processes, systems, and standards relating to the description of records. She served as the agency representative to the White House Open Government Working Group from 2010 to 2017 and serves on advisory boards for the Digital Public Library of America and the Library and Archives Canada. In 2022, Ms. Wright was selected by President Biden as a Distinguished Executive in the Senior Executive  Service. Ms. Wright holds undergraduate degrees in history and English from the University of Montana as well as a graduate certificate in project management from George Washington University. 

Abigail Potter is a founding member of the Library of Congress Labs team and has led a program of digital experimentation with an emphasis on practical and human-centered outcomes. Since joining the Library of Congress in 2005, she’s helped build capacities in local, national, and international networks for mass digitization, digital preservation, web archiving, and machine learning. In the past year she led the creation of the LC Labs AI Planning Framework, the NLP vendor evaluation guidance from the General Services Administration's AI Community of Practice, and is the current co-chair of the AI 4LAM Secretariat (AI for Libraries/Archives/Museums). Ms. Potter, who has a background in digital publishing, earned her bachelor of arts degree from Western Michigan University and her master of arts degree from the University of Michigan.

Gulam Shakir has been NARA’s Chief Technology Officer since May 2020. In this role, he continues to establish agency-wide enterprise technology architectures and provide program level IT strategic direction to mission-critical programs. Some of Mr. Shakir’s recent achievements include exploring options for the transfer of electronic records from various cloud sources, providing secure access to partners in external agencies, migration of legacy applications to the cloud, and advising on the modernization of legacy applications that process requests to veterans’ records. As NARA's Chief AI Officer, Mr. Shakir is leading AI-related pilots to improve search within the National Archives Catalog to detect personally identifiable information (PII) within NARA records before public release, and to create AI-assisted first draft of descriptive metadata for NARA’s records. In the past, he has served as NARA’s Chief Data Officer and as a system architect within Information Services since 2016. Before joining NARA, Mr. Shakir served in various technical leadership roles at DataXu, Inc.; Marchex, Inc.; and IBM Corp. He has a master of science degree in computer science from West Virginia University. 

Eric Stein is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Global Information Services (A/GIS) at the U.S. Department of State. In this role, he is the Department’s Senior Agency Official for Privacy. He is a career member of the Senior Executive Service. Prior to serving as the A/GIS DAS, he served as the Director of the Office of Information Programs and Services at the State Department. This office is responsible for the Department’s records management, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Privacy Act, classification, declassification, library, and other records and information access programs. Mr. Stein has served in key leadership roles involving the Department’s improvement of records management and agency-wide FOIA initiatives. He also serves as co-chair of an interagency FOIA technology working group led by the Department of Justice and NARA. Mr. Stein served as an intra- and interagency coordinator on the State Department’s efforts to mitigate the WikiLeaks incidents. During this assignment, he also served as the Department’s point of contact for Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) mandated by Executive Order 13556, tribal consultations and other cross-cutting, Department-wide programs. Mr. Stein received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Boston College and a master of arts degree in politics (American government) from the Catholic University of America.

Bobak (Bobby) Talebian began serving as the Director of the Office of Information Policy (OIP) of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in February 2020. OIP is responsible for developing policy guidance for executive branch agencies on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), providing legal counsel and training to agency personnel on the procedural and substantive aspects of the Act, and for overseeing agency compliance with the law. OIP also manages the Department of Justice's obligations under the FOIA. This includes adjudicating administrative appeals from denials of access to records made by DOJ components under the FOIA or the Privacy Act of 1974; handling initial requests for records of the Offices of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, and Associate Attorney General as well as other Senior Management Offices; providing staff support for the Department Review Committee, which reviews DOJ records containing classified information; and handling the defense of certain FOIA matters in litigation. Mr. Talebian is a graduate of Kenyon College and the University of Tennessee College of Law where he served on Law Review.


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