2013 FOI Summit Schedule

Banner for 2013 FOI Summit

Friday, May 17

Saturday, May 18

See brief bios of all speakers here.

Friday, May 17

2:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Conference Registration

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3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Yes, You CAN … on a Shoestring

Practical tips for the most vexing challenges facing NFOIC member coalitions, from effective ways to advocate for better open government and laws without running afoul of IRS lobbying rules to maintaining an effective Web presence and fundraising in an era when foundation money is hard to find and eroding business models are negatively affecting the generosity of traditional media-industry donors.

Panelists include: Megan Rhyne, executive director, Virginia Coalition for Open Government; Hyde Post, journalist and consultant; and Anne-Marie Taylor, co-founder of Investigate West, and policital & nonprofit fundraiser.

Moderated by: David Marcello, adjunct professor of law, Tulane University of Law School, and executive director, The Public Law Center.

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4:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Ideas Marketplace

FOI advocates and coalition leaders from around the country talk about noteworthy success stories, problems they've encountered or just interesting tidbits worth sharing in an open but moderated, roundtable conversation.

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5:45 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Opening Reception

Hors d'œuvre, conversation and cash bar.

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8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Regional Coffee Klatches

Optional, at each region's discretion.

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Saturday, May 18

8:00 a.m.

Registration Opens

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8:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.


  • NFOIC Annual Membership Meeting
  • Presided over by Hyde Post, president of the board of NFOIC.
  • Panel discussion The Deliberative Process 150 years Post-Lincoln
  • Thanks to Oscar-nominated filmmakers and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, moviegoers got a glimpse of back room horse trading that made the 13th Amendment possible. Today, the parameters of privileges and exemptions that allow pre-decisional secrecy, and withholding of unfinished drafts, are frequent topics of debate, even litigation. Can today's worst actors who stretch those limits claim they are standing on the shoulders of giants? How much access does transparent government demand? How much confidential counsel does it permit?
  • Panelists include: Michael Reitz, executive vice president, Mackinac Center for Public Policy; Terry Ryder, attorney.

    Moderated by: Linda Lightfoot, executive editor (ret.), The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate.

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10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m

Not a Picayune Problem

How is the changing news media environment and the gradual reshaping of the newspaper business affecting the use and effectiveness of freedom of information requests and other journalistic efforts on behalf of open and accountable government? Who in the media world are the new vanguards of public information advocacy, and what are their motives? New Orleans provides a microcosm of the nationwide trends taking place at the intersection of changing public media and open records. In the Crescent City, The Times-Picayune is transitioning out of daily publication, TV stations are ramping up their coverage teams, new investigative journalism outlets are taking hold and special interest bloggers are trying to make an impact. This panel looks at these developments and measures their impacts on public service.

Panelists include: S.L. (Sherry) Alexander, associate professor; College of Social Sciences, Loyola University New Orleans; Steve Beatty, editor, The Lens; Tod Smith, president & general manager, WWL-TV, Inc.; and James O'Byrne, Director of State Content, NOLA.com | The Times Picayune.

Moderated by: Peter Scheer, executive director, First Amendment Coalition (California).

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12:00 – 1:45 p.m.

Keynote and Hall of Fame Luncheon

  • Welcome and Introductions: Ken Bunting, executive director of NFOIC.
  • Keynote address: Delivered by: Waldo Jaquith, the award-winning "open government technologist" who developed the White House's Ethics.gov. He is a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation News Challenge Fellow, and the creator of The State Decoded.
  • State Open Government Hall of Fame Induction — This year’s inductee is Brian Sonntag, who retired earlier this year after serving five terms as the elected State Auditor in Washington state. Sonntag, the 13th individual named for the honor since the Hall's inception in 2003, is only the third elected official ever chosen for the honor.

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2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Digital Dodges and the Email Sleight of Hand

A panel of battle-tested experts discuss best practices and best outcomes when issues related to email and digital communications are legislated or litigated in your state. Are electronic records at least as accessible as paper records would be? Are retention policies adequate, without too much discretion given to records custodians themselves? Is anyone positing the silly notion that communications about government business become private if a sneaky underhanded public official uses his own personal computer or private email account?

Panelists include: Robert Becker, attorney, chair of SPJ's D.C. Pro Chapter First Amendment/FOI and Government Relations Committee Chair, and board member, D.C. Open Government Coalition; Lori Mince, partner, Litigation Section of Fishman, Haygood, Phelps, Walmsley, Willis & Swanson; and Joey Senat, associate professor, School of Media & Strategic Communications, Oklahoma State University.

Moderated by: Scott Sternberg, associate, Baldwin Haspel Burke & Mayer, LLC.

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3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Technology and Access: Promise, Possibility and Perils

In an era when neither unmanned drones nor global positioning devices qualify as futuristic, technological advances have greatly expanded the capacity for access and citizen engagement. But they also give rise to concerns about privacy and other rights infringements. Some agencies understand that "public" now means online and are sharing their data with the public. In other instances, citizens have pried it loose and shared it.

However, in the case of the gun database published by the Journal-News of Westchester, NY, or the controversial use of mug shots gathered by law enforcement, publishing without careful consideration and public communication can hurt the cause of freedom and give rise to unwanted new restrictions.

A panel of experts discusses techniques and strategies for getting data and approaches for presenting it in ways that don't risk future access to that data, and also examines whether government policies should take into account what the public wants to do with data or any other public information.

Panelists include: Daniel Lathrop, investigative reporter, Dallas Morning News; Barbara Petersen, executive director, First Amendment Foundation (Florida); Shawn Musgrave, project editor, MuckRock; Gordon Russell, Managing Editor for Investigations, The Advocate.

Moderated by: Mark Horvit, executive director, Investigative Reporters & Editors.

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5:15 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.

Closing Reception

Hors d'œuvre, conversation and cash bar.

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