Agenda for 2023 – join us

As the Coalition welcomes a new board president, Kirsten Mitchell, in January, the board will engage in planning efforts to set new and renewed directions. Please join the conversation as we engage community partners at the revived in-person Sunshine Week “Summit” in mid-March 2023. (Announcement forthcoming with guest speakers, time and place.)

Early discussions suggest priorities may include

  • Tracking executive branch follow-through on D.C. Council directions on improved open government. At least six committees’ FY23 budget reports contained specific directions about funding, policy change, and further consultation with the Coalition by agencies such as Office of Administrative Hearings, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, and more. Summary blog post here and full read-out of these reports here.
  • Expanded community outreach through expansion of three training sessions already offered and spreading word of consultation available on open government needs.
  • Advocating a task force or commission to host a broader conversation on access reform (similar to Police Reform Commission) — to suggest revisions to law (FOIA, Open Meetings Act), enhance the Office of Open Government, and plan capital investments needed for infrastructure to support 21st century digital records-management. Response to Coalition Council testimony and follow-up discussions in 2022 suggest there is Council interest; testimony of the Office of Open Government also discussed the need for a task force to revise outdated open government laws.
  • Other unfinished policy and legislative business: adding charter schools to the D.C. Freedom of Information Act; implementing the expected Court of Appeals decision decision enforcing publication requirements in FOIA to increase information available without request (long ignored by D.C. agencies); establishing D.C. policy on employee use of message apps especially that erase messages; and establishing sound WMATA policy on public access to video from body-worn cameras that Transit Police will wear beginning in 2023.

Coalition agenda in prior years – during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Coalition beginning in March 2020 emphasized two goals:

  • maintaining the most open government possible as D.C. government takes emergency actions during the pandemic, and
  • increasing police transparency as a key response to rising concern following the murder of George Floyd in 2020 about over-policing and irresponsible use of force.

Accordingly, the Coalition’s effort in 2020-21 included:

  • protesting secret daily “coordination” meetings of the mayor and D.C. Council at the start of the pandemic (until they were stopped);  
  • publicizing growing FOIA backlogs and successfully advocating in late 2020 for legislation reinstating deadlines for processing requests and appeals on January 15, 2021;
  • supporting emergency legislation requiring fast release of police videos of shooting deaths and other serious uses of force and advocating for better access to other police video and to police complaint and other misconduct investigations (including researching police video and records access policy elsewhere);
  • publicizing technical limits in the design of virtual hearings that reduced public access to Council committees’ FY21 budget proceedings and updating the analysis for FY22 oversight and budgetv hearings (somewhat imprioved);
  • publicizing D.C.-funded charter schools’ refusal to answer questions about receipt (or not) of pandemic bailout funds;
  • advocating for public access to virtual court proceedings as courthouses closed because of the virus;
  • commending D.C. agencies for early publication of data on infection status of key employee groups such as police and jail guards, and on institutions, but calling out missing data (such as on schools);
  • advocating successfully that the Police Reform Commission include access to unredacted body-worn-camera video and to police discipline records in their April 2020 report and recommendations.

Details of the above are in posts to the Coalition blog, archived elsewhere on this site.