National FOI Day
National FOI Day is an annual, daylong program of speaking and discussion by specialists in various aspects of freedom of information, updating developments in FOI over the preceding year.
2013 National FOI Day Conference
The 15th annual National Freedom of Information Day Conference was held Friday, March 15 in the Freedom Forum’s Newseum.
Keynote discussion was with professor and author Ron Collins and noted lawyer Floyd Abrams, on Collins’ latest book: Nuanced Absolutism: Floyd Abrams and the First Amendment.
Hosted each year by the First Amendment Center, the conference is conducted in partnership with Open the Government.org, American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, American Society of News Editors, Association of Research Libraries, the Center for Effective Government, League of Women Voters, National Freedom of Information Coalition, the Project on Government Oversight, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Special Libraries Association and the Sunlight Foundation. The event is part of the annual Sunshine Week.
2012 National FOI Day Conference
The 14th annual National Freedom of Information Day Conference was held Friday, March 16 — James Madison’s birth date — in the Freedom Forum’s Newseum.
Keynote speaker for the event was Robert O’Neil, former president of the University of Virginia and former director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.
Hosted each year by the First Amendment Center, the conference is conducted in partnership with the American Library Association, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, OMB Watch, OpenTheGovernment.org, and the National Security Archive at George Washington University. The event also is part of the annual Sunshine Week initiative sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee.
The conference included the announcement by the ALA of the recipient of its annual James Madison Award. Receiving the 2012 award was Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.
2012 conference coverage
- Speaker makes a case for a national digital library
- Free speech and openness often ‘uneasy allies,’ scholar says
- Lofgren wins ALA’s James Madison Award
- Technology changes landscape for would-be whistleblowers
- Reporter: Government, press ‘contest’ over secrecy won’t be solved
- Info somewhat freer in parts of world, panelists report
Speaker: John Palfrey
Panel: International trade agreements
Keynote speaker: Robert O’Neil
Lunch speakers: Ken Paulson, ASNE/First Amendment Center; Molly Raphael, American Library Association; and ALA Madison Award recipient Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.
Panel: Whistleblowers & the Press
Two panels: Secret Government & Secret Laws, then Freedom of Information Worldwide
2011 National FOI Day Conference
The 13th annual National FOI Day Conference was held Wednesday, March 16, at the Newseum.
First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams was keynote speaker for the event, and Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org, received the ALA’s 2011 James Madison Award.
The conference also featured the induction of five nominees into the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame, honoring those who have made significant contributions to protecting and expanding access to government information. The Hall was created in 1996 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Panel: What in the FOIA world has Wikileaks wrought?
Panel: Two years after President Obama took office, how does his administration rate on FOI?
Panel: Technology, classification, declassification and the public interest
Keynote speaker: Floyd Abrams
FOI Day history
The idea of a National FOI Day to be observed on March 16 in honor of James Madison’s birthday emerged in the late 1970s. For a number of years, the National Press Club hosted a FOI program on different dates, but that program became subsumed by other interests in the early 1990s.
In 1993, Paul McMasters convened a “National Freedom of Information Summit” at the First Amendment Center in Nashville, bringing together most of the major players on FOI, right to know and government secrecy. That two-day conference resulted in a report titled “Battling for an Open Government.”
In 1996, working with the American Society of Newspaper Editors, McMasters convened another summit at the Freedom Forum on FOIA’s 30th anniversary called “Sunshine & Secrecy: The FOIA Turns 30.”
The first official National FOI Day conference was held at the Freedom Forum on March 16, 1999, and has continued ever since.