Transparency

Content from Obama transition site vanishes

President Obama in the Oval Office (White House Photo)

Why has the Obama administration removed material from Change.gov?

Change.gov, the online clearinghouse of policy initiatives and personnel moves that the Obama transition team launched after the 2008 election, has "effectively vanished" from the web, according to The Sunlight Foundation.

Update July 30: Change.gov is back. Read our latest story.

During much of the Obama administration, the Change.gov site has redirected to the main White House website, but the content was still available. The Sunlight Foundation, which noted the change in a July 25 blog post, observed that the information on Change.gov was useful in tracking how Obama's performance matched the vision laid out in his first campaign.

Sunlight policy director John Wonderlich suggested that Obama's early embrace of government whistleblowers could be a reason behind the change. The ethics agenda on the original Change.gov included the following: "Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance."

National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who disclosed highly classified information about wide-ranging information collection on American citizens, is seen by supporters as a whistleblower, entitled to the sort of legal protection outlined in the Obama policy document. Wonderlich suggested that the whistleblower protection language may have gone, "from being an artifact of his campaign to a political liability."

Much of the retired content on Change.gov can still be accessed via the Internet Archive. The technology agenda includes open government and open data initiatives and the establishment of the federal CTO position.The ethics agenda includes promised whistleblower protections, the establishment of a chief performance officer inside the Office of Management and Budget (a post that is currently vacant), procurement reform, and an end to the revolving door of lobbying by former executive branch officials.

 

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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Reader comments

Wed, Jul 31, 2013 24b4Jeff

Why anyone bothers to listen to anything Obama says or read anything posted in his name is beyond me. How many broken promises or outright lies does it take to convince one that he's a manipulative narcissist?

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 Owen Ambur Silver Spring, MD

The Change.gov agenda is available in open, standard, machine-readable format at http://ambur.net/stratml/drybridge/index.htm#Obama or, more specifically, http://ambur.net/stratml/carmel/ChangeGovwStyle.xml

Tue, Jul 30, 2013

What Obama transparency? The only transparency I have seen is that he wants to take from those that have worked hard, paid their dues, and have achieved some level of success and give to those not willing to pay their dues. Everything else is in a cloak of secrecy. Here's to the most non-transparent president in history.

Tue, Jul 30, 2013

This goes into the category of hahahaha!! Whistleblowers are to be respected for their courage, unless they point to the administration and its policies toward its citizens. This is just so ironic and hypocritical.

Tue, Jul 30, 2013

No policy or law can be perfected. There will always those who bastardize a good rule for their own means. The Whistleblower protection was around long before Obama. I personally, knew of a supervisor who was a despot to his employees and many complaints where filed. When upper management tried to take disciplinary actions against him, he used information from his years of 'friendship' with other member of management to bring accusations against several. All but one were seen as having no merit and that one was so slight as to only constitute a note in the manager's personnel file. HOWEVER, this action protected the the 'Whistleblower' from adverse actions for years . It wasn't until his employees, past and present, banded together in a class complaint that he was removed. And that took years.

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