Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Government in the Sunshine Act

September 13, 1976

Distinguished Members of the House and the Senate, members of the administration, and guests:

It is my great privilege and honor this morning to sign into law S. 5, the Government in [the] Sunshine Act.

I strongly endorse the concept which underlies this legislation, that the decisionmaking process and the decisionmaking business of regulatory agencies must be open to the public.

And I congratulate the Members of the Congress in making certain that this legislation comes to the White House and is available for my signature on this occasion.

In a democracy the public has a right to know not only what the government decides but why and by what process. Today many citizens feel that their government is too remote, that it is not responsive to their needs. This legislation should go a long way in reaffirming that government exists for the people, not apart from the people.

Under this law some 50 regulatory agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Civil Service Commission, and the National Science Board, are required to give advance notice of their meetings and then hold these meetings in public. If an agency votes to close a session for one of the specific reasons set forth in the law, verbatim transcripts of most such meetings would be available to the public.

The law also prohibits any communication between agency officials and outside persons having an interest in matters being considered before a regulatory body. Furthermore, the Freedom of Information Act has been amended by narrowing the authority of agencies to withhold information from the public.

The Government in [the] Sunshine Act is in keeping with America's proud heritage that the government serves and the people rule. This afternoon, I am delighted to sign this legislation and to reaffirm that heritage and let the sunshine in.

Note: The President spoke at 12:07 ,p.m. at a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House.

As enacted, S. 5 is Public Law 94-409 (90 Stat. 1241).

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks Upon Signing the Government in the Sunshine Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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