Open Government Summit – March 18, 2020

Celebrate Sunshine Week each year with us in March when the D.C. Open Government Coalition hosts a free reception and program celebrating the values of open and responsive government we fight for.

When: March 18 at 6:30.

Where: American Bar Association, 1050 Connecticut Ave N.W., Washington, D.C. (corner of L Street; Metro Red line Farragut North stop, L Street exit); 5th floor

Who: All are invited. Those attending include government officials; press, bloggers and researchers; nonprofit leaders; and a wide variety of community members who rely on open government law.

What: Program usually includes a keynote by a newsmaker or policy leader, and quick takes on events of the year including (tentatively) what’s going on with

  • criticism in 2019 of access to video from MPD body worn cameras,
  • DCPS secrecy on names of schools with sexual abuse complaints,
  • encryption of DC officials’ messaging using WhatsApp, and Coalition warning letter to the mayor of what’s lost.

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.

Earlier summits are described in older blog posts, for example 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 or 2017.

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 Coun cil 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).