This week is Sunshine Week, an annual initiative that seeks to educate the public about the importance of openness in government. Each year during mid-March, organizations dedicated to advocating for a more open government hold events around the nation to
discuss the various ways we can hold our government accountable to the people by limiting secrecy and advancing the free exchange of information.
The PIDB supports these Sunshine Week events, including one being held today at the National Archives and Records Administration. The event features a variety of panelists, including the Archivist of the United States and the Librarian of Congress, as well professionals from the Office of Government Information Services and civil society groups, who will discuss the importance of increasing the public’s ability to access government information.
As a Presidential Advisory body, the PIDB will continue its role of advising the President, Executive Branch officials, and Congress on ways to bring sunshine to the security classification system in the interest of our national security. We believe, and have reiterated in every report written, the need for limiting secrecy to the absolute minimum necessary to achieve our national security initiatives.
Indeed, sharing information as soon as is possible brings credibility and transparency to the security classification system, ideals we know are necessary for its successful functioning. As current events have demonstrated, the credibility of our government is a major factor in its ability to do its job effectively. Transforming and modernizing classification and declassification across government so they function more effectively in today’s digital information environment is critical to reducing over-classification and improving access to information that no longer requires protection.
Sunshine Week is also an opportunity to commemorate the tenure of one of our longest serving members, Sanford Ungar. Sandy completed his third appointment as a member of the PIDB in early March. Among his many accomplishments while on the PIDB, Sandy was instrumental in developing the recommendations for all three PIDB Reports to the President, including the latest Setting Priorities report, which focuses on the prioritization of historical records of interest in declassification review. Sandy’s experience as a journalist and historian helped shaped many of his insights while a PIDB member. His dedicated service to the nation will not be forgotten and we wish him all the best in the next chapter of his professional and personal life. We are thankful the PIDB will have Sandy as an enduring resource to call upon as we continue our work in promoting a more open government. On behalf of the members, past and present, we thank Sandy for his contributions and congratulate him on his tenure as a member of the PIDB.