Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In 1976, Congress passed the Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. 552b), which took effect the next year. The legislation was modeled on an earlier Florida Sunshine Act. Its purpose was to provide Americans with open access to the meetings of some 50 federal agencies, commissions, and boards. Partly in response to the Watergate scandal earlier in the decade, this law and other antisecrecy measures were enacted to make sure that government agencies, deliberations were open to public scrutiny. The act works in concert with the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, which required that all meetings of federal advisory committees serving the executive branch be open to public observation. Both this and similar state statutes do not affect or govern the meetings of legislative bodies such as Congress. While sessions for the House are typically open, the U.S. Senate occasionally holds closed meetings to discuss treaties or personnel ...