For Immediate Release – August 16, 2019
Daniel Bevarly, Executive Director
National Freedom of Information Coalition
State and local public institutions are epicenters for open government and freedom of information (FOI) challenges occurring across the nation. Government transparency is a hallmark of our democracy and journalists, organizations and residents rely on their states’ open government laws to ensure easy access to public records and meetings.
Fortunately, there are groups at the state level –FOI coalitions– that serve their jurisdictions’ residents as a national network of open government advocates. NFOIC assists more than 35 nonprofit state FOI coalitions for open government, which work to defend citizens’ and journalists’ right to access government information.
Today, NFOIC is happy to announce two nonprofit organizations devoted to promoting government transparency in their states and local governments have joined the National Freedom of Information Coalition as new state coalition members.
The Missouri Sunshine Coalition and ACCESS/RhodeIsland are now part of a national network of state FOI organizations which include citizen-driven nonprofit FOI organizations, academic and First Amendment centers, journalistic societies and attorneys.
The Missouri Sunshine Coalition is a nonprofit group of volunteers committed to the free flow of government information and the Missouri Sunshine Law, which provides citizens access to their government. Their mission is to educate all Missourians about their rights and responsibilities under the state’s Sunshine Law.
ACCESS/RhodeIsland is a broad-based, non-profit freedom of information coalition dedicated to improving citizen access to the records and processes of government in Rhode Island. Through continuing programming, research and advocacy, ACCESS/RhodeIsland strives to keep the “right to know” at the top of the public-policy agenda.
“ACCESS/RhodeIsland is pleased to be a member of NFOIC because, among many reasons, our membership ensures that we have the support and resources we need to continue to keep the workings of our state and local governments transparent,” said Linda Levin, executive director. “As we have for the last two years, ACCESS/RI will keep pushing for much-needed amendments to the state’s Open Meetings Act.”
For 30 years, NFOIC and its partner state coalitions have worked to improve open government laws and enhance transparency practices at the state and local levels. Last year, the organization relocated from the University of Missouri to the University of Florida, partnering with the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, and added a full-time staff member to assist the state coalitions.
NFOIC will continue to increase partnerships and funding for coalitions, provide training in technology, produce evidence-based research, and improve coordination among the groups, so they can more effectively help journalists and other stakeholders. “Our mission is to help establish, support and empower state coalitions in order to improve the laws, judicial remedies, and practice of government information dissemination at the state and local levels,” said NFOIC executive director, Daniel Bevarly.