DCOGC Organizes First Open Government Summit

D.C. Council Member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) outlined progress that the District of Columbia has made in advancing transparency at the first Open Government Summit organized by the D.C. Open Government Coalition (DCOGC) on Tuesday, March 13.

Bowser praised the steps taken in advocating openness, but said that new institutions – such as a proposed independent Open Government Office– needed to be established to minimize the effect of politics ontransparency initiatives. The D.C. Council has created the office but the administration of Mayor Vincent Gray has yet to staff it.

The Summit, held at the National Press Club, coincided with Sunshine Week, a national initiative to foster a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. It was co-sponsored by the National Press Club’s Freedom of the Press Committee. More than 60 persons attended the meeting, and the DCOGC hopes to make the Summit an annual Sunshine Week event.

A spirited panel discussion on the state of open government and freedomof information followed Bowser’s remarks. It was moderated by Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the national Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The panelists were journalist Mark Segraves of WTOP Radio, ABC 7 News and DC 50 TV; Ariel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel to the D.C.Attorney General, and V. David Zvenyach, general counsel to the D.C. City Council.

During the discussion, Zvenyach acknowledged the City Council could be more transparent and urged attendees to apply more “elbow grease” to holding city government officials more accountable.  He suggested that D.C. office holders would be more responsive on these issues to a determined citizenry.

Segraves criticized the DCOGC for not being tough enough on D.C. Council Members and the Gray Administration.  And Levinson-Waldman claimed that the Gray administration has been more active than previous administrations in promoting transparency, although he too said more progress is needed.

See more photographs from the Open Government Summit here.