A new report from OpenTheGovernment.org, A Quick Accounting of Accountability Information, shows how far the federal government has to go to meet 21st century expectations of transparency. According to independent evaluations of 10 agency websites completed for the report, even at agencies that are perceived to be among the leaders in transparency, the public has no consistent access to the type of information it needs to understand how and why public policy decisions are formed, and hold decision makers accountable for their actions.
On Monday, March 14 the Administration announced it would, in furtherance of meeting the President's goal of “unprecedented transparency” direct agencies to post official congressional testimony and agency reports to Congress required by statute and to “proactively provide information about their regulatory compliance and enforcement activities, so that the public can hold both regulated parties and agencies themselves more accountable." This initial evaluation will be used as a rough baseline going forward to judge whether or not the government is making progress on meeting the Administration's objective.
The report, based on the results of evaluations of information available on the agency websites, was completed by volunteers with experience evaluating agencies' information policies. Each volunteer was asked to spend no more than five minutes looking for specific pieces of “accountability” or “ethics” information, like a list of Inspectors General (IG) reports and on-line access to the non-classified reports, calendars for top agency officials, and lobbying disclosure forms.
Download the report here: www.openthegovernment.org/sites/default/files/AccountabilityInfoAuditFinal.pdf