Obama Administration Issues Report on Transparency Record

16 September 2011

The Obama administration Sept. 16 released its own “compelling picture of how far the Administration has already come towards forging a more open government.”

The report is introduced in a White House blog post by Steven Croley, a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Counsel to the President, which begins, “President Obama has made open government a high priority.”

The report’s release comes in advance of the Sept. 20 event in New York City at which Obama and other heads of state will officially kick-off the Open Government partnership. Almost a year ago, Obama proposed the OGP, a multilateral effort in which member countries pledge to take steps toward more open government.

At the meeting, the eight countries on the OGP steering committee, which is chaired by the United States and Brazil, are expected to announce their national “action plans.”

The U.S. report summarized Obama administration openness efforts to date. The executive summary states:

President Obama has committed his Administration to work towards new levels of openness in government. For over two and a half years, the Administration has done much to make information about how government works more accessible to the public, and to solicit citizens’ participation in government decision-making. Federal agencies have undertaken to disclose more information under the Freedom of Information Act. They have devised ambitious Open Government Plans designed to increase opportunities for public engagement. They have made voluminous information newly available on government websites. They have shined more light on federal spending. They have even taken steps to provide more disclosure of sensitive government information. Finally, and not least of all, agencies have used technology in many innovative ways that make information useful to citizens in their everyday lives. This Status Report provides a review of the progress the Administration has made towards forging a more open relationship between citizens and their government. It shows the measurable progress made so far along many dimensions of the Administration’s open government initiatives. It also anticipates some of the next steps towards realizing even more fully the President’s commitment to unprecedented openness.

The Obama Administration’s Commitment to Open Government: A Status Report (pdf) defends its record against critics, stating:

Some critics have alleged that the Administration has not done enough to create a more open government, and that much work remains. They are right; notwithstanding the measurable and undeniable progress made on all of the Administration’s major initiatives, still more work is necessary. Others, however, underestimate the progress made over the past two years towards creating a more open government.

The report also responds to criticisms of its open data initiative and of its release of White House visitor records.

Looking ahead, the report describes ongoing efforts and some future plans, including issuance of a new policy on agency websites.

The report also encourages Congress to be more open.

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