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Sunlight Foundation Stops Search for a Director, Contemplates Future

Decline in funding and the absence of a leader have the open government advocacy nonprofit searching for new partners and a new identity.

After 10 years of operation, the Sunlight Foundation, the open government advocacy nonprofit, is now adjusting its role in the market. In a Sept. 20 blog post, Co-Founder and Chairman Mike Klein explained that despite a long search for a new executive director to replace Chris Gates, who resigned in January, the organization's board of directors was unable to find anyone able to present "a compelling new strategic vision." This announcement may be connected to the organization's funding, which has declined in recent years.

The Sunlight Foundation accepted more than 100 applications and interviewed five people for the position, but instead of hiring any of the applicants decided its future may be to merge with another organization with a similar mission, though nothing specific was mentioned on that front.

Sunlight will continue working on its obligations to funders and partners, Klein wrote, such as the What Works Cities initiative, but the organization will stop its tool-building and database maintenance activities. OpenCongress, for instance, is no longer available, and users who visit the website are encouraged to instead visit, a similar service.

"I helped start this organization hoping it would play an active role as a monitor and constructive critic of government policies and practices affecting transparency," Klein said. "As we explore potential alliances with other organizations over the next few weeks, I look forward to continuing that work."

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.