Conference on access, right to know will help mark Freedom of Information Day

Wednesday, March 3, 1999

ARLINGTON, Va. — White House chief of staff
John Podesta will be the keynote speaker at a
daylong conference March 16 on access to
information, being held in conjunction with
National Freedom of Information Day.

The conference, sponsored by The Freedom Forum in
cooperation with the American Library Association,
falls on the 248th birthday of James Madison, the
father of the First Amendment. The conference
renews the tradition of using Madison’s birth
anniversary to bring together advocates of access
and the right-to-know, said Paul McMasters, First
Amendment ombudsman for The Freedom Forum.

“Ever since The Freedom Forum hosted a conference
(in 1996) observing the 30th anniversary of the
Freedom of Information Act, I’ve wanted to follow
up with a National FOI Day program,” McMasters
said. “It’s a great opportunity to renew this
country’s commitment to the Jeffersonian principle
of an informed citizenry.”

McMasters expects between 100 and 125 people to
attend the conference, titled “Access to
Information: Strategies and Solutions.”

In addition to Podesta, other confirmed speakers
include Roslyn Mazer of the Justice Department and
Patrice McDermott of OMB Watch. Mazer is chairman
of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals
Panel, which has the final word on whether a
government document will be declassified.
McDermott will describe her group’s new “Agenda
for Access,” a plan to gain access to government