Former President John Adams once said, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right and a desire to know.” Two hundred and fifty years old later those words still ring true and take on special meaning this week as we mark Sunshine Week 2012, an annual celebration of government transparency.

For the uninitiated, the goal of the weeklong effort, sponsored by a number of groups including the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, is to educate the public on their “right to know what [their] government is doing, and why.” And this isn’t just about federal government transparency either, it’s aimed at improving openness at the state and local levels too. In fact, that seems to be a point of particular emphasis this year.

From one of Sunshine Week’s co-sponsors:

To mark Sunshine Week 2012, we urge citizens and civic organizations across the country to again press state and local officials to find meaningful ways to participate in Sunshine Week to demonstrate that they, too, are committed to true transparency in government.

One way this can be done is by adopting a meaningful open government proclamation that pledges specific steps to enhance the public’s right to know.

Proclamations can be more than just statements of general support. They can also address and pledge action on specific open government concerns and shortcomings that you, your organization and/or the officials themselves have identified.

Toward that goal, the sponsors of Sunshine Week offer this model proclamation. It begins with a generalized statement of support for government in the sunshine, followed by a sampling of open government provisions that have resulted in increased transparency in local and state governments around the country.

If your city, county, school board or state government does something special to recognize Sunshine Week, please let us know. Wed also like electronic copies of any proclamations and other materials to share on the website. You, or the officials, can send them to sunshineweek@sunshineweek.org.

Happy Sunshine Week!

-James Quintero