AAN legal counsel Kevin M. Goldberg testified before members of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Wednesday, representing AAN and other media organizations as part of Sunshine Week.
At the hearing â€” which had the official title, “We the People: Fulfilling the Promise of Open Government Five Years After The OPEN Government Act” â€” Goldberg urged the committee to take additional action to achieve greater government transparency and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform.
“Our optimism grew when President Obama proclaimed that his administration would be the most transparent administration ever, but these eight years have not brought the desired change to FOIA processing itself,” said Goldberg, who referenced a Grateful Dead song to illustrate his point. “The public still sees a black muddy river that rolls on forever.”
Specifically, Goldberg recommended steps to strengthen and increase funding to the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), which is responsible for reviewing FOIA compliance and resolving disputes between Federal agencies and FOIA requesters. He also stressed the need for greater accountability at the OGIS and urged more government agencies to switch to FOIAonline, a system he says will save taxpayer resources while fulfilling the mandate of the open government act.
“The new multi-agency FOIAonline system offers more promise, by creating a freely searchable, online database of already disclosed records that will advance the proactive disclosure of frequently requested records,” he explained.
Goldberg’s appearance on Capitol Hill was just one in a series of events he took part in on behalf of AAN during Sunshine Week, a week-long open government initiative spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE).
A full video of Goldberg’s testimony can be found here. Skip to the 1:44 mark for Goldberg’s portion of the hearing, and skip to the 2:02 mark to see Senator Al Franken tell Goldberg that he managed to get “Jerry Garcia, Bruce Springsteen, and your wife, now on the record.”