Roundtable to Launch Government Transparency and Online Hubs Recommendations

February 22, 2011

Contact: Erin Silliman

Washington, D.C. – This week the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will release the fourth and fifth in a series of white papers aimed at implementing the recommendations of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. The papers—“Government Transparency: Six Strategies for More Open and Participatory Government” by Jon Gant and Nicol Turner-Lee, and “Creating Local Online Hubs: Three Models for Action” by Adam Thierer—outline specific steps that community and elected leaders need to take to enact the Knight Commission’s recommendations to expand government transparency and create local online information hubs.

The formal release will take place at a high-level roundtable discussion among a select group of leaders, innovators, advocates and critics from the national, state and local levels on Friday, February 25, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Aspen Institute (One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036). Following the presentation of each paper, these experts will debate the best ways to implement the recommendations at a time when citizens are demanding more open and transparent government, and as systems for exchanging news and information undergo significant change.

The Knight Commission’s landmark report, Informing Communities, includes 15 recommendations to advance the information needs of American communities in the broadband age. The 17 members of this bipartisan blue ribbon commission called on governments at all levels to operate transparently and make public records and civic data open and accessible to the public in easy-to-use, low cost, standardized formats. And they urged localities to create local information maps that the Commission called online hubs. The two white papers to be released on Friday provide action plans for achieving these goals.

Who: Featured Speakers

Dr. Jon Gant, Fellow, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and Associate Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a leading scholar in the field of information systems and public administration.

Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee, Vice President and Director of the Media and Technology Institute for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. She has produced path breaking research on broadband adoption among minority and disadvantaged populations and engages city, state and federal legislators on issues in telecommunications, open government and the emerging technology innovation sectors.

Adam Thierer, Senior Research Fellow, Technology Policy Program, Mercatus Center at George Mason University, having previously served as President of the Progress & Freedom Foundation. His work spans technology, media, and Internet and free speech with a focus in online child safety and digital privacy policy issues.

Roundtable participants include:

  • Gary Bass, Executive Director, OMB Watch
  • Ben Berkowitz, Founder, SeeClickFix
  • John Bracken, Directory of Digital Media, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • Jerry Brito, Senior Research Fellow, George Mason University
  • Kevin Curry, Co-Founder,
  • Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • Charlie Firestone, Executive Director, Communications and Society Program, Aspen Institute
  • Feather Houstoun, President, William Penn Foundation
  • Ngoan Le, Vice President of Programs, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Blair Levin, Communications and Society Fellow, Aspen Institute
  • Philip Neustrom, Founder, Davis Wiki
  • Steve Pearson, Publisher and Chief Technologist, Project Virginia
  • Lee Rainie, Director, PEW Internet and American Life Project
  • Rachel Sterne, Chief Digital Officer, Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment, New York City
  • Roberta Stevens, President, American Library Association
  • Daniel Schuman, Policy Counsel, Sunlight Foundation
  • Nancy Tate, Executive Director, League of Women Voters
  • Tracy Viselli, Community Manager, ACTion Alexandria
  • Eric Wenger, Policy Counsel, US-Legal-Government Affairs, Microsoft Corporation

***Please note that space is limited to members of the press who RSVP.
Please RSVP to or 202.736.5818.

What: A roundtable discussion on government transparency and online hubs with key policymakers and leaders. Both papers will also be released and available at
Where: Aspen Institute, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036. For those who cannot attend in person, a live webcast of the roundtable will be available online at

When: Friday, February 25, 2011, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET

Agenda: The roundtable will begin with a presentation by Jon Gant, Nicol Turner-Lee and Adam Thierer, followed by discussion among the invited roundtable participants about the recommendations and how they may best be implemented.

Interviews can be arranged by contacting Erin Silliman at or 202.736.5818.


The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy was a blue ribbon panel of seventeen media, policy and community leaders that met in 2008 and 2009. Its purpose was to assess the information needs of communities, and recommend measures to help Americans better meet those needs. Its Report, Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age, was the first major commission on media since the Hutchins Commission in the 1940’s and the Kerner and Carnegie Commissions of the 1960’s.

The Commission’s aims were to maximize the availability and flow of credible local information; to enhance access and capacity to use the new tools of knowledge and exchange; and to encourage people to engage with information and each other within their geographic communities. Among its 15 recommendations the Commission argues for universal broadband, open networks, transparent government, a media and digitally literate populace, vibrant local journalism, public media reform, and more local public engagement.

The Knight Commission is a project of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

View Comments