2019 FOI Summit

FOI Summit_TX


NFOIC thanks our host, the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and everyone involved for making the 2019 FOI Summit a success. Great topics, great presenters, great audience, and great sponsors combined to make this 30th anniversary a well-attended and informative event. We’ve added the presentation slides and FOI research papers below and included a link to the summit program. Visit NFOIC’s YouTube Channel to watch summit sessions. Be sure to join us in Kansas City for the 2020 summit. 

View the FOI Summit program 

Watch the FOI Summit presentations


2019 National FOI Summit Agenda

Thursday – April 11, 2019 – NFOIC Board of Directors

Registration Open

NFOIC Board Meeting – 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

NFOIC Board Dinner 


Friday – April 12, 2019 – FOI Summit Day #1

Registration Open

8:00 am – 9:00 am – Breakfast

9:00 am – Welcome  

9:30 am – 10:30 am – Session #1 – Online Public Records Portals and the future of FOI administration

It’s been said that if it isn’t measured, it’s not managed.  A key metric missing in many state and local public institutions is comprehensive reporting of public record requests and responses. Can the growing use of online public record portals improve responses and provide a meaningful measurement for FOI administration? Learn more about how these online solutions help and hinder a fundamental feature of open government in our states and communities.  

  • Adam Marshall, Knight Foundation Litigation Attorney, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (Moderator)
  • Alexa Capeloto, Associate Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY – Presentation Slides

  • Jeri Carter Lawson, Open Records Manager, City of Dallas 
  • William Repole, COO/CPO, WebQA

10:45 am – 11:45 am – Session #2 – How cybersecurity laws and new data management policies are impacting access to public information

As states bolster their cybersecurity laws to protect sensitive or private data, some transparency measures are being challenged or overruled, making it more difficult to access public records. How can journalists, open government advocates and public records stewards better navigate these changes? And how does technology like cloud storage of public information come into play?

  • Doug Robinson, Executive Director, National Association of State CIOs – Presentation Slides

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm – Lunch & Learn – Knight Foundation Report on State FOI

  • David Cuillier, Associate Professor, school of Journalism, University of Arizona – Presentation Slides

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm – Session #3 – Papers Presentation

Authors of selected papers will provide insights of practical value for those who work day-to-day in access to government information. Topics may include issues regarding access to public records and meetings, court transparency, access to public employees and elected officials, open data and technology, and other related matters. (Learn more here…)

  1. “Countering the Privatization of Public Records: How Trade Secrets, Purported Competitive Harm and Third-Party Interventions Keep Government Business in the Dark,” by Amy Sanders, University of Texas-Austin, and Daxton “Chip” Stewart, Texas Christian University – Presentation Slides
  2. “SLAPP-ing Back: Are Government Lawsuits Against Records Requesters Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation?” by Patrick C. File and Leah Wigren, University of Nevada, Reno – Presentation Slides
  3. ‘Opening the State House Doors’: Examining Trends in Public Access to Legislative Records, by Ryan Mulvey and James Valvo, Cause of Action Institute – Presentation Slides

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm – Session #4 – The growing role of litigation for government transparency

Journalists, open government advocates and residents sometimes need to sue their government to obtain public records. And nowadays, sometimes they’re the ones getting sued by the public institution. Reasons vary. But lawsuits aren’t cheap or quick. We’ll talk about the different reasons on both sides and options from journalism and FOI organizations that contribute to the rise in public records litigation, as well as strategies for open government and first amendment groups to work together to find solutions to this public access challenge.

  • James Chiun-Yue Ho, U.S.Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit (Moderator)
  • Frank LoMonte, Executive Director, Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, University of Florida
  • Terry Mutchler, Managing Partner, Mutchler Lyons
  • Laura Lee Prather, Partner Haynes & Boone, LLP

3:45 pm – 4:45 pm – Session #5 – State lightning talks: Trends around the nation

Representatives from NFOIC state coalitions provide a three- to five-minute talk highlighting the biggest open government challenges and wins in their state in the last year. We’ll also present the results of our coalition-wide survey and discuss trends in the needs of coalitions in 2019.

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm – Welcome Reception and Papers “Poster” Presentations

Papers approved for publication by their authors:

“Opening the state house doors: Examining trends in public access to legislative records” – Ryan Mulvey, Cause of Action Institute and James Valvo, Cause of Action Institute

“Countering the Privatization of Public Records: How Trade Secrets, Purported Competitive Harm and Third-Party Interventions Keep Government Business in the Dark”  – Daxton “Chip” Stewart, Texas Christian University and Amy Kristin Sanders, University of Texas – Austin 

“SLAPP-ing back: Are Government Lawsuits against Records Requesters Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation?” – Patrick C. File, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno 
Leah Wigren, J.D., Graduate Student, Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno

“Access to Government Officials in the Age of Social Media” – Katie Blevins, University of Idaho and Kearston Lee Wesner, Quinnipiac University 

Saturday – April 13, 2019 – FOI Summit Day #2

Registration Open

8:00 am – 9:00 am – Breakfast

8:30 am – 9:00 am – NFOIC Members Meeting (Open to All)

9:15 am – 10:15 am – Session #6 – Investing in First Amendment challenges today

Representatives from major philanthropies and foundations will discuss the current state of open government, press freedom and freedom of information and how their organizations are supporting initiatives to address challenges to democracy and first amendment rights. 

  • Matthew Randazzo, President and CEO, Dallas Foundation (Moderator)
  • Deirdre Hughes, Director, Media Portfolio, Charles Koch Institute
  • Nick Swyter, Associate/Journalism, Knight Foundation

10:30 am – 11:30 am – Session #7 – How press freedom and open government challenges affect ethnic minorities and minority-centered news organizations

Open government and first amendment issues impact all of society. However, some issues have a greater impact on certain audiences. In this session, we’ll hear from ethnic minority-centered news organizations and journalists about their perspectives on today’s transparency challenges considering key historical, cultural and socio-economic challenges unique to different minority groups (e.g. immigration, Black Lives Matter and free press in Indian Country).

  • Ayan Mittra, Editor, The Texas Tribune (Moderator)
  • Ben Baby, Staff Writer, Dallas Morning News; Asian American Journalists Association
  • James Barragan, State Reporter Dallas Morning News; National Association of Hispanic Journalists
  • Kevin Kemper, the Law Office of Kevin R. Kemper; Native American Journalists Association
  • Cheryl Smith, The Texas Metro News and The Garland Journal; Secretary, National Association of Black Journalists

11:30 – 12:00 Room Transition (free time to catch up on email, calls or networking)

12:00 – 1:30 – Heroes of the 50 States Open Government Hall of Fame Luncheon  

                           30-year NFOIC retrospect

  • Mal Leary, Public Political Correspondent, Maine Public; President, National Freedom of Information Coalition
  • Sue Hale, Journalism Consultant for Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, NFOIC Founder
  • Nancy Monson, former executive director, NFOIC
  • Mitchell Pearlman, former Executive Director of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, former director NFOIC

                       Open Government Hall of Fame Induction

  • Brian Hunhoff, Contributing Editor, Yankton County Observer (South Dakota)
  • Hyde Post, Post Communications, Past President Georgia First Amendment Foundation, NFOIC (Georgia)
  • Laura Lee Prather, Partner Haynes & Boone, LLP (Texas)
  • Richard McKee (posthumously), Past President of the California First Amendment Coalition, co-founder of Californians Aware (California)

1:45 – 2:45 – Session #8 – Coalition strategies for leveraging reforms

Mission critical for state FOI coalitions is to advance open government legislative and policy reforms. We’ll discuss three areas important to coalitions to help them succeed This session will look at strategies to more effectively monitor state legislative sessions, the effective use of litigation, and building and sustaining a diverse coalition of supporters.  

  • Kelsey Ryan, Outreach Manager, NFOIC – Legislative tracking (Moderator)
  • Kelley Shannon, Executive Director, Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas – Diversifying state coalitions
  • Adam Marshall, Staff Attorney, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press – Litigation Strategies

3:00 – 4:00 – Session #9 – 30 years of NFOIC and State FOI: Pioneers and Trailblazers – the past, present and future of open government, press freedom and FOI

The federal Freedom of Information Act became a law in 1966 and led the way for similar state open government and transparency legislation across the U.S.  As NFOIC celebrates its 30th anniversary, we’ll hear from transparency pioneers and next generation trailblazers and consider the future of open government considering the radical changes in technology, governing, politics and journalism.

  • Mark Horvit, Associate Professor, University of Missouri School of Journalism, NFOIC (Moderator)
  • Andrew Chavez, Computational Journalist, Dallas Morning News
  • Sue Hale, Journalism Consultant for Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, NFOIC Founder
  • Ginger McCall, Oregon Public Records Advocate, State of Oregon
  • Mitchell Pearlman, former Executive Director of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, former director NFOIC
  • Tamara Manik-Perlman, Co-founder and CEO, NextRequest
  • Thomas Susman, Strategic Advisor, Governmental Affairs Office, American Bar Association

4:00 Wrap up & Adjourn