Obama issues orders and memoranda on ethics, transparency

President Barack Obama today issued executive orders and memorandums designed to improve government ethics and make the government more open.

Obama signed an executive order designed to change presidential record-keeping along with another order that sets new ethics restrictions for political appointees and lobbyists.

“I will also hold myself as President to a new standard of openness,” Obama said during a meeting with senior administration staff. “Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

The order on presidential records “ends the practice of having others besides the president assert executive privilege for records after an administration ends," the White House officials said in a statement.  Now, only the president will have that power, limiting its potential for abuse." The also order requires the attorney general and the White House counsel to review claims of executive privilege related to covered records.

Obama also ordered all of his political appointees to sign a pledge restricting their interactions with lobbyists and their ability to rotate employment between goverment and industry.

According to a press statement, Obama instructed officials to draft an open government directive within 120 days that will be used to implement specific principles of the memo. He also instructed the attorney general to issue new guidelines related to the Freedom of Information Act.

 Obama also said he will freeze the pay of his White House senior staff members at current levels, signing a memorandum to keep his senior staff from receiving pay raises to the extent allowed by law, according to the statement.

 
“The president and his staff recognize that in these austere times, everyone must do more with less, and the White House is no exception,” the statement said, adding that the action would let the White House stretch its budget to get more done.

 
The freeze applies to staff members making $100,000 and above, according to a senior aide quoted by a published pool report. 

About the Authors

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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