(ALA) President Sari Feldman presented OpenGov Foundation Executive Director and Co-founder Seamus Kraft with the 2016 James Madison Award today during the 18th annual Freedom of Information Day hosted by the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center at the Newseum.
“Seamus Kraft is an individual who has and continues to fight hard to protect and promote the public’s right to know, a man who personifies the spirit of the James Madison Award,” Feldman said in presenting Kraft with the award. “In his leadership role at the OpenGov Foundation, Seamus has been an effective and inspired champion for public access to government information, bringing greater transparency to government at all levels, including structural changes that will have long-term impacts for increasing civic engagement in government.”
“Thank you, President Feldman and the entire American Library Association for this incredible honor,” said Kraft in a video of his remarks. “While it pains me to not be with you all in real life, it is, perhaps, appropriate that I join you digitally, both to give thanks and to share with you our small, fiercely apolitical non-profit that’s seeking to rebuild law and lawmaking for our digital age. And while it falls to me to accept the James Madison Award, I am doing so on behalf of the entire OpenGov Foundation family.”
Kraft has been widely recognized for a number of breakthrough initiatives aimed at opening government access and transparency to the public. Those projects include: creating America Decoded, which publishes legal codes, legislative data and existing laws in standardized data for major states and cities; launching MADISON—an open legislative data and engagement platform for writing, publishing and annotating legislation—in federal, state and local governments; being the driving force behind the recent successful bipartisan push that officially opened the House of Representatives to open-source software; and hosting four, nationwide #Hack4Congress events to catalyze progress and strengthen the open government community.
In 2012, TechCrunch named Seamus among its 20 Most Innovative People in Democracy, for developing open government legislation, breaking down barriers to open source software, and laying the technical, political and legal groundwork for a truly open Congress.
In recognizing Seamus and the OpenGov Foundation, TechCrunch described his work as seeking to “bridge the gap between citizens and government and building the tools that power lawmaking for a modern democracy.”
Prior to creating the OpenGov Foundation, Seamus served as Digital Director and Press Secretary for the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he built one of the most successful digital communications operations in government from the ground up.
Past Madison Award winners include former Vice President Al Gore, Senator Russ Feingold, philanthropist George Soros, journalist Nina Totenberg, and — most recently in 2015 — Senator John Cornyn.
Learn more about the James Madison Award.