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Open Government on the Internet: A New Era of Transparency

Conference focuses on the importance of open/free government information; role of the Internet 

Vivek Kundra, Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO), Senator Bill Bradley, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Featured Speakers

AUSTIN, TX, April 28, 2009-- The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas present "Open Government on the Internet: A New Era of Transparency" on May 15, 2009 at the LBJ Library and Museum.

The Conference will explore the renewal of accountability through transparency in government and the role of the Internet as articulated in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Transparency and Open Government Memoranda, the very first official presidential memoranda issued by President Barack Obama. (Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 at 12:00 a.m.)

The one-day conference will feature speakers and panelists from Austin, Texas and Washington D.C. interacting simultaneously with one-another and the audience through video conferencing from The Archer Center, a facility of The University of Texas System in Washington, D.C.  Among the distinguished guest participants is Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) in the Obama Administration Vivek Kundra. President Barack Obama named Kundra the "federal CIO" -- a new position that will oversee technology investments and technology spending by the federal government, according to the White House.

In addition to Kundra, speakers include former Senator Bill Bradley, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, Sunlight Foundation Director Ellen Miller, LBJ School Professor Gary Chapman and League of Technical Voters Founder and Director Silona Bonewald.

Gary Chapman, LBJ School professor said,  “This conference is a response to the increasing activity and interest surrounding the issue of government accountability and transparency, with a focus on the role of the Internet in this new ‘open era’ of government. Transparency is at the top of the agenda for all government leaders, as reflected in President’s Obama’s first executive order.”

“At the same time,” continued Chapman,  “the Internet has become increasingly important to citizens who are demanding not only more information but greater accessibility. This conference will look at these developments through nationally prominent speakers and the participation of the audience.”

Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum emphasized the significance of the Library’s involvement as host of the conference.

“The FOIA, a landmark law that has ever changed how citizens can learn about their government, was born during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.  As President Obama recently stated in his executive memorandum renewing FOIA,   ‘At the heart of the commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.’ There was no greater champion of the right of every citizen to have access to his or her government than Lyndon B. Johnson.”

“As the home to over 45 million documents spanning more than three decades of Johnson’s life in government service,” continued Dr. Flowers, “the LBJ Library is proud to host this conference as we examine the renewal of an open-era of government in the 21st century.”

The Conference is the result of a policy research project on budgetary transparencies on the Internet led by LBJ School professor Chapman where LBJ students discovered a lack of transparency and a need for better usability. This Conference is designed to bring those issues to light and to represent an ongoing theme of work for faculty and students.

In addition to exploring the issues and innovations in budgetary and fiscal transparency online, topics to be covered in the conference panels include technologies for monitoring legislation and spending; the "right to know" agenda for the 21st Century; innovation in the states; the future of "i-government;" citizen participation online, and ways technologists can help.

For more information on the Conference, including a program, list of additional panelists, and RSVP details, visit: http://21stcenturyproject.org/transparency_conference.htm

More information on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law on July 4, 1966 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson and went into effect the next year. It allows for full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the federal government, with nine exemptions for national security, personnel information, trade secrets and other limited categories.  For more information, visit: http://www.foia.va.gov/