Let the Sun Shine In


This Sunshine Week was a particularly successful (and busy!) time for Sunlight. We helped usher in new transparency legislation, launched a nation-wide grassroots campaign, launched a new design contest, joint led a crowdsourced search for government data, met with editorial boards and more. No wonder we’re all exhausted this Friday afternoon.

Here’s a more granular look at what we accomplished this week:

For Sunlight’s Communications team, Sunshine Week began early, with extensive outreach to editorial boards, reporters and columnists. This strategy paid off, as Sunday’s kick off of Sunshine Week by newspapers across the country included many mentions of Sunlight’s work. (You can read all of our mentions on our site — and note we’re still updating the list.)

On Monday, John Wonderlich, Gabriela Schneider and I met with an editorial writer Washington Post to discuss initiatives we support that would further improve public access to government information including the Public Online Information Act.

That bill was introduced at a press conference on Tuesday (under a transparently clear sky) on Capitol Hill. I joined Rep. Steve Israel and the Personal Democracy Forum’s Andrew Rasiej (who is also an adviser to Sunlight) in announcing this landmark legislation. You can watch our press conference if you want to know more details about this groundbreaking legislation.

On Wednesday, Sunlight Labs launched our fourth official contest: Design for America. Part contest, part festival, the Design for America contest’s intent is to inspire the design community to tell great stories about how our government works, what our government does, and what it could do. It’s a contest as much about possibility as transparency, and with categories ranging from infographics to web design, there’s plenty for all to compete.

Also on Wednesday, we joined the Center for Public Integrity in crowdsourcing our Data Mine project, a new online series identifying inaccessible or difficult to use information from the federal government. We need your tips on what federal government records, databases, and filings should be open to the public – join us to help so  you can continue to read about public government data that we still can’t access. Follow  Jim Morris’ posts on the Reporting Group site, like his most recent  report.

On Thursday, Sunlight’s Engagement team kicked off our new Public=Online campaign . Jake Brewer led a roundtable discussion at Google’s D.C. headquarters, with Jose Antonio Vargas from Huffington Post; Jim Harper from Cato Institute and WashingtonWatch.com; Ginny Hunt from Google’s Public Sector Lab and Ryan Hopkins of Public Square Project in Pittsburgh. Public=Online is a completely non-partisan campaign with the first goal of making government transparency a major issue in the upcoming mid-term elections. We hope you’ll sign the pledge and join us.

I traveled to Boston that day to meet with the Boston Globe editorial board, speak with fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, and at an MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media Forum.

Our Engagement team also organized a Sunshine Week Blogswarm, in which about 50 bloggers across the country pledged they would blog about the importance of transparency to them. Look for a “Local Sunlight” blog post early next week by Nisha Thompson with a roundup.

Today, John Wonderlich joined White House Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, Norm Eisen, and Jim Harper from Cato and WashingtonWatch.com (which I should note is a Sunlight grantee) at the OpenTheGovernment.org “Building Transparency” panel at the Center for American Progress.

Whew! What a week.