Dear Friend of Open Government:
We are only two-thirds of the way aathrough 2016, and this has already proven to be a banner year for the D.C. Open Government Coalition. While we could rest on several accomplishments that would constitute a “good year” for a group of our size and budget, we still have several challenges ahead for this year. That’s why I’m writing to you, to ask for your help and support for our work to make government in the District of Columbia – and nationwide – as open and transparent as possible.
The Board of Directors of the D.C. Open Government Coalition cannot be more proud of the work we have done this year and the results we have obtained. Among our highlights are:
- The introduction by Councilmembers David Grosso, Mary Cheh and Anita Bonds of the “Strengthening Transparency and Open Access to Government Amendment Act of 2016.” Several of our board members actively worked with Council staff to draft this “omnibus” legislation, which will provide key reforms to the D.C. Freedom of Information Act and the D.C. Open Meetings Act, and will strengthen the Office of Open Government.
- The convening of another successful “Open Government Summit” at the National Press Club during the annual “Sunshine Week” in March. This year’s event featured Mayor Muriel Bowser as a keynote speaker, a panel discussion regarding the omnibus transparency bill, and a discussion by Archana Vemulapalli, the chief technology officer of the District of Columbia, of the city’s recently published draft open data policy.
- The issuance of a decision by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Vining v. Council of the District of Columbia, a case in which we filed our first-ever amicus brief and participated in oral argument. The Court of Appeals held in our favor that the Council cannot use the “Legislative Privilege Act” as a broad – almost limitless – exemption to the D.C. FOIA.
- Working with the Office of Open Government to hold several D.C. agencies accountable under the D.C. Open Meetings Act.
- Testifying before the D.C. Council on several issues, including access to meetings and records of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, proactive access to records held by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and continued funding and independence for the Office of Open Government.
- Coordinating with the Virginia Coalition on Open Government and the Maryland/DC/Delaware Press Association on a first-ever joint letter to the legislatures of all three jurisdictions regarding a bill that will create a new Metrorail Safety Commission with oversight and enforcement authority related to Metro.
But the most exciting news involves what is still to come. We will host the National Freedom of Information Coalition’s annual Open Government Summit at the Dupont Circle Hotel October 7 and 8. This annual event features two days of discussions, presentations, and group interaction among leaders of the state open government coalitions nationwide, the “best of the best” experts, advocates and champions of transparency and open government. We invite you to join us at the event, where discussion topics will include the history and future of the federal FOIA, an in-depth look at police transparency, best practices in “proactive disclosure” of government records, and ideas for reforming the FOIA appeals and judicial review process at the state level to make it easier and less expensive for individuals to challenge FOIA request denials.
You can register at http://www.nfoic.org/2016-foi-summit.
Whether or not you can attend, we hope you will support us with a financial contribution. As an all-volunteer organization with a small annual budget, we have taken the lead in planning the program and have been asked to share in its cost. We need your help to make this Summit an event that benefits interested citizens in the District of Columbia and nationwide, and highlights the District of Columbia as a forward-thinking leader when it comes to transparency. Please donate here or send a check to D.C. Open Government Coalition, P.O. Box 73771, Washington, D.C. 20056.
On behalf of the D.C. Open Government Coalition, thank you for your support. We cannot do this important work without you.
With best regards,
President, D.C. Open Government Coalition
The D.C. Open Government Coalition is exempt from federal income tax as an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Our EIN is 26-4520540.