This week (October 22-28) marks the 10th annual Open Access Week, organized by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) to promote collaboration between global research communities toward achieving Open Access (OA): free online access to scholarly publishing, and the international right to use and distribute scholarly research.
In May, the 2018 Open Access Week Advisory Committee announced this year’s theme as “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge,” to encourage discussions about making information access less exclusionary, and how even open systems can “recreate or reinforce” inequalities.
The goals of OA broadly align with concrete objectives long advocated by PIDB, including:
- The adoption of universal metadata requirements and standards for managing declassification, to help improve access to declassified historic records [PIDB White Paper, “The Importance of Technology in Classification and Declassification” (June 2016)].
- Bringing greater uniformity, consistency, and efficiency to the declassification process, and such activities as the use of technology and interface with the public [Issue No. 5, PIDB Report to the President, Improving Declassification (December 2007)].
- The adoption of a government-wide technology investment strategy for the management of classified information, to improve archival processing, description, and research outcomes [PIDB White Paper, “The Importance of Technology in Classification and Declassification” (June 2016)].
- Prioritizing the declassification review of historically significant information (Issue No. 2, [PIDB Report to the President, Improving Declassification (December 2007)]
- Expanding the uses and roles of historians and historical advisory boards [Issue No. 12, PIDB Report to the President, Improving Declassification (December 2007)]. For example, government historians research and publish important historical retrospectives that aid current and future researchers, scholars, and historians. The Department of State series Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) and the Office of the Secretary of Defense historical series should be continued and enhanced.
Access to government information is essential in a democracy; it supports transparency, and allows for informed decision-making by citizens. Access to government information should be free and open, with equal access for all.
Together with the Open Access community, let’s all observe Open Access Week, as we continue working for innovation and modernization to expand appropriate information access and accountable government transparency into the future.