Let the Sunshine In!



March 10-16, 2013 is Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote federal and state government transparency, open government, and freedom of information.

Where can I learn more?

At the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to increase government transparency and educate citizens, or Sunshine Week, a cooperative effort between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Bloomberg LP,the AMerican Society of News Editors, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Check out their events calendar to see what’s going on this week.

That’s nice, but what’s the White House doing this week?

The White House is celebrating Sunshine Week too! Check out their events and celebrations at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/03/11/sunshine-week-celebration-open-government.

This sounds like fun! How can I submit a FOIA request for documents from the National Security Archive?

Check out GWU’s Guide to Effective FOIA Requesting for Everyone for help preparing and submitting a FOIA request.

I’d rather have state materials. Can I get those too?

State and local governments are not subject to FOIA, but the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has put together a guide on open records and open meeting laws for the fifty states.

Speaking of states, how does Massachusetts stack up against other states for transparency and access to information?

Not too well, actually. The Sunlight Foundation’s Open States Project, which tracks legislative data and information from the fifty states, just failed the Massachusetts Legislature’s website for things like ease of use and completeness of information–users cannot fully track legislation or see how lawmakers vote on proposed laws.

I want true transparency! How can I find deleted tweets from politicians?

The Sunlight Foundation’s Politwoops project has a comprehensive collection of items tweeted by politicians that were later deleted. Read the latest or search by state, party, or position. Other Sunlight Foundation projects include tools for tracking legislation and political influence, understanding the inner workings of Congress, and several fun mobile apps, which we’ll feature individually in future blog posts.