U.S. Coalition Scores Obama in 2012 Secrecy Report Card

14 September 2012

The  U.S. coalition OpenTheGovernment.org has issued a report saying that President Obama’s transparency promises are falling short.

Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, said, “The Obama Administration has set policies that are starting to turn the tide in favor of open government. But, as far as we can tell from existing numbers, those policies have yet to fully change the direction of government.” 

See the report on the report by Lauren Harper in a National Security Archive Unredacted post. She writes in part:

While the 2012 Secrecy Report provides new information, most notably that federal circuit courts rule overwhelmingly against whistleblowers (3-226 since 1994), and that President Obama evoked Executive Privilege for the first time in his administration during the Operation Fast and Furious investigation, the majority of the Report’s findings echo those from last year.

One of the most frustrating statistics underscored is the unrelenting rising cost of government secrecy; in FY2011, the government spent $215 to keep its records classified for every $1 it spent on declassification (up from $201 to $1 in FY2010). Accompanying a continued rise in many secrecy statistics was the news that the government-wide FOIA backlog, which had shrunk by 10% in FY 2010, grew by 20% in FY2011.

Challenges for Congress Issued

The coalition, which includes more than 80 groups advocating for open and accountable government, also has posted “5 Issues Congress Should Seriously Consider.”

In brief they are:

federal government more open and accountable. Read more for our list:

  1. Get serious about overclassification.
  2. Update the Federal and Presidential Records Acts. 
  3. Pass a Strong Whistleblower Protection Expansion Act. 
  4. Free CRS Reports! 
  5. The Senate Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees should take active roles in evaluating any proposed exemptions or expansions to exemptions under FOIA.
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