SU’s Burnham, Long named to National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame
SU’s Burnham, Long named to National Freedom of Information Act Hall of FameMarch 13, 2006Cynthia J. Moritzcjmoritz@syr.edu
Susan B. Long and David Burnham, co-founders and co-directors of Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), will be among 21 champions of open government to be inducted into the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame during the National FOI Day Conference on March 16.
The new members will constitute the third class of inductees since the Hall of Fame was established in 1996. New classes are named every fifth year. The Hall of Fame is sponsored by a coalition of more than 30 organizations that work for expanded access to government information.
Long is an associate professor in SU’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management. In addition to teaching managerial statistics and research methods at SU, she has spent her professional career using the Freedom of Information Act to provide public access to electronic records and administrative database systems to assess the performance of government.
Her active work on freedom of information matters began in 1970 when she and her husband, the late Phil Long, began a decade-long FOIA effort to reform long-entrenched secrecy practices at the Internal Revenue Service. During the 1980s, her FOIA work continued as director of SU’s Center for Tax Studies.
Long earned a Ph.D. in sociology with a dual major in statistics and criminology at the University of Washington. She completed post-doctoral work in statistics at Princeton University. Her current research focuses upon data architecture, reliability and validity issues in database systems and the design of data mining and analysis tools for non-statisticians.
Burnham — a writer, investigative reporter and researcher — is an associate research professor in SU’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. He started as a reporter in 1958, working for UPI, Newsweek, CBS and other organizations. From 1968 to 1986, he was an investigative reporter with The New York Times in New York and Washington, D.C. He has written three books and numerous magazine articles.
Burnham has received many professional honors, including the George Polk Award for Community Service from Long Island University (1968); the Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship (1987); the Best Investigative Book of 1990 from Investigative Reporters and Editors; and a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in Bellagio, Italy (1992). In 2003, Burnham was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
In 1989, Long and Burnham founded TRAC to make available comprehensive information on federal enforcement, staffing and spending. The information, much of it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, consists of more than a terabyte of data, the equivalent of about 500 million printed pages. TRAC makes this available through its publicwebsite, http://trac.syr.edu, and a subscriptionservice, http://tracfed.syr.edu.
“The Hall of Fame was established to recognize the work and accomplishments of those who have made a difference in the battle against government secrecy,” says Paul McMasters of the First Amendment Center, who coordinated the selection process for this year’s group.
Criteria for induction into the Hall of Fame include “long-term or significant instances of leadership, advocacy, accomplishments or scholarship on behalf of the federal Freedom of Information Act in particular or open government in general.”
For more information on the National FOIA Hall of Fame and previous inductees,visit http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org.