2016 FOI Summit Concludes – Challenges to public records access in a digital age among top issues

News Release

2016 FOI Summit Concludes – Challenges to public records access in a digital age among top issues

October 10, 2016

Contact: Dan Bevarly • 239.823.1811


The National Freedom of Information Coalitionconcluded its 2016 FOI Summit in Washington D.C. This year’s summit featured an enlightened discussion, “FOIA at 50,” on the past, present and future of the Freedom of Information Act that included author, activist and government watchdog Ralph Nader. Nader presented a number of controversial government actions that were only exposed by using FOIA to obtain information.

The annual two-day event featured presentations from FOI experts –many who direct their state’s FOI organizations and are affiliate members of NFOIC. Among the presentations which included policing transparency, open data, proactive disclosure, attorney fees, FOI litigation and advocacy campaigns, was the continually growing challenge for government to manage, and for open records petitioners to obtain public information in an increasing digital age.

Each year, the summit includes the induction ceremony of a new member into the State Open Government Hall of Fame, a joint initiative of NFOIC and the Society of Professional Journalists. This year’s inductee is Sam D. Kennedy, a longtime First Amendment proponent and active FOI advocate of Tennessee state and local government.  Best-selling author and national investigative journalist Charles Lewis, gave the keynote speech. Lewis is the executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.  

NFOIC announced new state members that joined NFOIC this year from California and South Carolina. NFOIC has 42 state and regional members representing 46 states. “Our goal is to have coalition members in all 50 states,” said NFOIC President Mal Leary, who is also vice president of the Maine Freedom of Information Coalition. “

NFOIC announced the following board directors have been re-elected for new, three year terms:

·         Mark Horvit, Associate Professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism

·         Mal Leary, Senior Political Correspondent for Mainepublic.org

·         Sara Nordgren, Director, Content Development and Alliances, The Associated Press

·         Mitchell Pearlman, Lecturer in Law and Journalism at the University of Connecticut


Current NFOIC president, Mal Leary and current treasurer Mark Horvit were both unanimously elected to serve new, two-year terms. Michael Morisy, co-founder of Muckrock was elected to the board for a three-year term.

NFOIC recognizes the summit’s financial sponsors and thanks Bloomberg,  the John S. and James L Knight Foundation, the Associated Press, the Bauman Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism, and the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri for their generous financial and in-kind support.

Next year’s site for the 2017 FOI Summit will be Nashville, TN in October. The Tennessee Coalition of Open Government will be the summit co-host.