At the tail end of this year’s #SunshineWeek, let’s take a quick moment to #FlashbackFriday (or should we say #FOIAFriday?) to 29 years ago yesterday, when the American Library Association began celebrating Freedom of Information Day. In honor of the day this year, ALA presented U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana with the 2017 James Madison Award for his advocacy for public access to government information. Upon accepting the award, Senator Tester gave a short speech, which you can watch here.
“It is a true honor to receive this award. Throughout my time in the U.S. Senate, I have made it a priority to bring more transparency and accountability to Washington. By shedding more light across the federal government and holding officials more accountable, we can eliminate waste and ensure that folks in Washington, D.C. are working more efficiently on behalf of all Americans.”
At the ceremony, Senator Tester affirmed his longstanding commitment to increasing public access to information by formally announcing the launch of the Senate Transparency Caucus, which aims to shed more light on federal agencies and hold the federal government more accountable to taxpayers.
Earlier this week, Senator Tester also reintroduced the Public Online Information Act, which aims to make all public records from the Executive Branch permanently available on the Internet in a searchable database at no cost to constituents.” In other words, this bill (if enacted) would cement the simple concept we know to be true: in the 21st century, public means online.
In honor of Senator Tester, here is a look back at the origins of ALA’s Freedom of Information Day: a 1988 resolution signed by Council to honor the memory of James Madison.