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The Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976, like the Freedom of Information Act, is another "openness" reform designed to make the internal decisionmaking process of regulatory agencies more accessible and subject to public scrutiny. The Act applies only to the multi-member boards or commissions, headed by two or more persons who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Act requires these agencies to open to the public any meeting where a quorum of the governing body discusses official agency business, unless the agency plans to discuss matters falling into one of ten exempt categories. These categories are similar to those established under FOIA for denying information requests. The agencies are required to announce any open or closed meetings seven days in advance and to publish a notice in the Federal Register.

The implementation of the Government in the Sunshine Act is somewhat mixed. Agencies vary in their inclination to close their meetings, as well as in their willingness to provide the background papers that can help make the discussion at the meetings more understandable to the members of the public in attendance.

This glossary was first compiled by The Regulatory Group, Inc., for its training courses more than 20 years ago. It is constantly being amended and revised to stay current with the developments in the Federal regulatory process. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions on how this glossary can be further improved.
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