Groups urge greater transparency in government

President-elect Barack Obama’s administration offers opportunities to dramatically increase openness and transparency in government with new policies, cultural change and application of the tools of Web 2.0, according to several open-government advocacy groups that propose the next administration make major changes.

One proposal is in a 112-page white paper, “Moving Toward a 21st Century Right to Know Agenda,” released by OMB Watch and a coalition of public interest groups on Nov. 12.

“We envision a government where our primary vehicles for public access, such as the Freedom of Information Act and whistle-blower laws, become vehicles of last resort,” the paper stated. “Instead, federal agencies proactively disseminate information to the public in timely, easy-to-find, and searchable formats.”


The coalition recommended that the Office of Management and Budget develop budget assessments for an aggressive openness campaign, including evaluating the costs of reducing backlogged Freedom of Information requests, training on right-to-know policies; implementing government integrity databases and preserving federal agency information in a searchable format.

In other recommendations:



  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation published a transparency agenda Nov. 12 that advises using new technologies to improve management of government data, revise the system for information classification and improve freedom-of-information access.



  • In a white paper released Nov. 11, the Center for Progressive Reform recommended that Obama issue an executive order on government transparency.



  • More than 60 groups convened by the National Security Archive recommended on Nov. 12 that Obama establish more open freedom of information policies, revoke President George W. Bush’s executive order on presidential records, and develop a new executive order on classification.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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