In April 2006, when Sunlight was created, our primary objective was to demonstrate and catalyze the aggressive use of the Internet and technology generally to fight the corrosive power of moneyed influence in our political system. The core idea was to provide the media and public 24/7 online access to information about the influence of the financially powerful, personally connected political class. Sunlight was created to demonstrate how to use civic technology to digitize, post online and render accessible (and useful with open source APIs) a raft of information that Congress had said should be public (such as political contributions, lobbyist activity, entertainment of politicians, etc.) but which was effectively hidden away in paper filed in cabinets and thus generally inaccessible. In the last years, Sunlight-provided data and APIs have been used over a billion times annually.
As we now look back, Sunlight has successfully catalyzed a movement. Dozens of organizations today are developing and supporting the expanding use of technology to enable citizens and the media to monitor and measure the conduct and results of governments at all levels, domestic and foreign. In this endeavor, Sunlight has been supported financially by many courageous, generous supporters (principal among them Omidyar Network, the Knight Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies). It has been aided by an extraordinarily innovative and motivated staff. And it has expanded its impact by cooperating with a range of other groups who entered the field, many with seed grants and/or technical support provided by Sunlight.
It has been an exciting, productive decade.
With that as context and our tenth year as a prod, Sunlight’s Board of Directors will begin its second decade by launching a search for a new executive director whom we expect will continue the organization’s pioneering work toward better governance through technology-empowered citizenship. This search is a reaffirmation of the core and historic DNA of the organization at its founding: to be a catalyst for more open and responsive government as a technology innovator, an active open source collaborator and a leading policy advocate for increasing effective transparency.
In the meantime, John Wonderlich, who has long led Sunlight’s Policy Group, will be acting as interim executive director.