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 and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

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


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