Conference to Focus on Importance of Open and Free Government Information and Internet's Role

Vivek Kundra, federal chief information officer in the Obama administration, and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley are among the speakers who will participate in "Open Government on the Internet: A New Era of Transparency" on May 15 at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

The event is presented by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

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 first executive memoranda issued by President Barack Obama.

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 participants is Kundra, who as "federal CIO" holds a new position that will oversee technology investments and technology spending by the federal government.

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

"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," said Chapman. "Transparency is at the top of the agenda for all government leaders, as reflected in President's Obama's first executive memoranda.

"At the same time, 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."

"The FOIA, a landmark law that has ever changed how citizens can learn about their government, was born during Lyndon Johnson's presidency," said Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. "As President Obama recently stated in his executive memorandum renewing the commitment of the 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 transparency in government and the right of every citizen to have access to his or her government than Lyndon B. Johnson.

"As the home to more than 45 million documents spanning more than three decades of Johnson's life in government service, 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 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 the role of technologists.