Media and Open Government Groups Celebrate Sunshine Week with Freedom of Information Program

Congressional Staff Members Will Discuss Current and Potential FOIA Oversight and Legislation


WASHINGTON, D.C., March 9, 2012 - Media and public interest groups will gather at American University Washington College of Law to celebrate Freedom of Information Day on Friday, March 16, with a series of academic sessions on government transparency.

In the United States, "Freedom of Information Day" is celebrated annually on March 16 (James Madison's birthday), during what is known as “Sunshine Week.”  This program is the fifth annual celebration of Freedom of Information Day held by American University Washington College of Law’s Collaboration on Government Secrecy (CGS).

Panels of leading experts and distinguished keynote speakers will discuss major issues of importance to the openness-in-government community, particularly the operation of the Office of Government Information Services, current high-visibility FOIA litigation cases, and agency misuse of a FOIA exemption. For the first time, congressional staff members from the House, Senate, majority, and minority will come together to discuss current and prospective FOIA oversight and legislative amendment of the Act.

Professor Susan B. Long, co-director of the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, will give the program’s keynote address. Long will also be presented with the 2012 “Robert Vaughn FOIA Legend Award,” in recognition of her remarkable career as a successful FOIA requester and litigant for more than four decades.

Richard L. Huff, co-founder of the Office of Information and Privacy at the Department of Justice, will give the luncheon address, “FOIA over the Decades, from Ford to Obama.”

 “We are very pleased to be able to present this program for the fifth straight year, and on James Madison’s birthday,” said Daniel Metcalfe, professor of secrecy law and executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University Washington College of Law. “We are especially glad that the program helps to anchor nationwide Sunshine Week celebrations this year.”

Read more information or register for the event.

Media interested in attending the event should contact Megan Smith, (202) 274-4276.

Schedule of Events

8:45 a.m. - Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:30 a.m. - Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Daniel J. Metcalfe, executive director, Collaboration on Government Secrecy, American University Washington College of Law

9:40 a.m. - Award Presentation

  • Alan B. Morrison, Lerner Family associate dean for Public Interest and Public Service, George Washington University Law School; founding director, Public Citizen Litigation Group

Keynote Address

  • Susan B. Long, co-director, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), Syracuse University

10:30 a.m. - Panel 1: OGIS and the FOIA’s Future

An inside look at the immediate successes and future plans of the Office of Government Information Services.

  • Gavin Baker, federal Information policy Analyst, OMB Watch
  • Kirsten Mitchell, management and program analyst, Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration
  • Marianne J. Manheim, FOIA program manager and public liaison, Office of Information Programs and Services, Department of State
  • Miriam M. Nisbet, founding director, Office of Government Information Services, NARA (moderator)

11:45 a.m. - Panel 2: Current FOIA Litigation

A survey of current high-visibility FOIA litigation cases and what can be learned from them.

  • Ahilan Arulanantham, director, Immigrants’ Rights and National Security, American Civil Liberties Union
  • David Burnham, co-director, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University, and former Investigative Reporter, New York Times
  • Jeffrey Light, National Lawyers Guild
  • Charles D. (“Chuck”) Tobin, chair, National Media Practice Team, Holland & Knight
  • Mike German, National Security Policy Counsel, ACLU (moderator)

1:00 p.m. - Luncheon Address: “FOIA Over the Decades, From Ford to Obama”

  • Richard L. Huff, FOIA instructor and co-founder, Office of Information and Privacy (OIP), Department of Justice (1976-2005)

2:15 p.m. - Panel 3: Legislative Outlook

A comprehensive view of FOIA activity in the 112th Congress from all four corners of Capitol Hill.

  • Krista Boyd, minority counsel, House Government Reform and Oversight Committee
  • Lydia Kay Griggsby, counsel to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy
  • Matthew L. Johnson, counsel to Senator John Cornyn for Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Tegan N. Millspaw, research analyst, House Government Reform and Oversight Committee
  • Thomas M. Susman, director of governmental affairs, American Bar Association (moderator)

3:45 p.m. - Panel 4: Is Exemption 3 Out of Control?

A critical review of existing agency use of twice as many Exemption 3 statutes as actually qualify.

  • Asheesh S. Bhalla, senior research assistant and webmaster, Collaboration on Government Secrecy
  • Rick Blum, coordinator, Sunshine in Government Initiative
  • Jennifer LaFleur, director of Computer-Assisted Reporting, ProPublica
  • Ginger P. McCall, director, Open Government Project, Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Adina H. Rosenbaum, director, Freedom of Information Clearinghouse, Public Citizen Litigation Group

5:00 p.m. – Reception


About American University Washington College of Law

In 1896, American University Washington College of Law became the first law school in the country founded by women. More than 100 years since its founding, this law school community is grounded in the values of equality, diversity, and intellectual rigor. The law school's nationally and internationally recognized programs (in clinical legal education, trial advocacy, international law, and intellectual property to name a few) and dedicated faculty provide its 1700 JD, LL.M., and SJD students with the critical skills and values to have an immediate impact as students and as graduates, in Washington, DC and around the world. For more information, visit