2021 Open Government Summit: Save The Date — Thursday, March 18, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Fritz Mulhauser | February 20, 2021 | Last modified: February 23, 2021
The D.C. Open Government Coalition invites you to this year’s Open Government Summit. Dive in with Coalition leaders and guests to examine public and charter school transparency, the coronavirus pandemic’s ongoing impact on government records access, and the views regarding government transparency of two recently elected D.C. Council members.
This year, the annual Sunshine Week event is sponsored by the Coalition together with the Society of Professional Journalists Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter; OpenTheGovernment; EmpowerEd; and the D.C. Office of Open Government. Join us via Zoom (register here).
The program includes three main segments:
- Leading off, Coalition board member Ginger McCall will talk with D.C. Council members Christina Henderson (I-At Large) and Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2). The session will explore their views on the laws about open data, meetings and records that foster greater public knowledge and participation in government and enhance accountability.
- The second segment centers on education, with D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson and EmpowerEd’s Scott Goldstein joining Sandra Moscoso, another Coalition board member, exploring gaps in basic education data on students, teachers, and learning (subject of a new audit), tracking the corona virus in schools and daycares, and special issues of access to board meetings and records at charter schools. They will discuss how greater access can empower parents and teachers to play a more effective role in shaping the District’s school system.
- Third, Nate Jones, FOIA Director for The Washington Post, Niquelle Allen, Director of the Office of Open Government, and Fritz Mulhauser, DCOGC blogger-in-chief, will assess the state of access to D.C. records in an extraordinary year and looking ahead. Expect observations on D.C. agencies’ compliance with public requests during the pandemic, the Metropolitan Police Department’s particularly vigorous resistance to transparency, and agencies’ common failure to post records as the law requires.
Tom Susman, Coalition president, will conclude the Summit with a community call to action, outlining how individuals and organizations can use (and advocate to improve) transparency tools to make local government more efficient and accountable.
Background on Sunshine Week and the OGC Summit
March 16 is the birthday of James Madison, who once wrote:
“[a] popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”1
He also wrote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge” is “the only Guardian of true liberty.”2
Jonathan Make wrote up the 2019 summit event in a post on Medium, March 12.
The Coalition’s summit is the annual event where the open government community comes together to celebrate accomplishments and look ahead to next steps.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Council members have joined us, as well as top officials such as the Chief Technology Officer, directors of the Office of Open Government, and the D.C. Auditor.
News breaks sometimes, as in 2019 when summit presenters included charter school teachers who detailed their advocacy for change in the law after secret board and management actions at their schools, along with Council member Charles Allen who previewed a dramatic charter school transparency bill he would introduce just 48 hours later. Two elected ANC commissioners also joined us in 2019 to describe their own efforts to find the government information they need to do their job of being the voice of their neighborhoods, And civic hackers over the years have showcased amazing applications built on open data.
1 Letter from James Madison to W.T. Barry (August 4, 1822), in The Writings of James Madison (Gaillard Hunt ed.).
2 Letter from James Madison to George Thomson (June 30, 1825) (on file with The James Madison Papers at The Library of Congress).