One year after President Obama issued his sweeping memorandum on open government, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent the President a letter recognizing his efforts to reduce government secrecy, and noting that a lot more work needs to be done to change the way the federal bureaucracy operates. To help make sure that agencies are meeting the President's rhetorical standards, the letter urges the President to develop more specific steps to implement transparency government-wide and specific metrics by which to measure agencies' success.
National Security Archive, CREW, Help Reveal White House E-mail Archiving Plan
As a result of litigation over e-mails lost during the Bush Administration brought by the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the White House issued a letter describing critical aspects of the Executive Office of the President (EOP) unclassified network e-mail preservation and archiving system currently in use. The release is important because it shows the White House has in place an effective system to properly categorize e-mails, and prevent unauthorized deletion.
One of the positive aspects of the Administration's Open Government Directive is the existence of firm deadlines for agencies to take particular actions to increase transparency and openness; these deadlines offer the public (and White House officials) the opportunity to make sure agencies are faithfully implementing the directive. For example, by January 22 (last Friday), the directive required agencies to post three new "high value data sets." According to Administration officials, these first three datasets are just a "down payment," or a minimum; agencies are expected to continue to make new datasets available to the public. To help judge if agencies are meeting those expectations, and posting data that is of value to the public, OpenTheGovernment.org is collecting data on agency participation to monitor the number of datasets agencies are adding, and the use of these resources by the public.
Already we see some interesting results: on a positive note, the Monday after the deadline, 65 new raw data sets and tools were posted and there were five new additions to the list of agencies/ sub-agencies participating; on the negative side, some agencies apparently had fewer raw data sets and tools posted on Monday than on Friday (we have suggested that if an agency/ sub-agency removes anything from data.gov, the removal should be noted on the site, and a reason for the removal should be given). Look for further analysis of the data we are collecting in the near future.
OpenTheGovernment.org joined the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and several other coalition partners in sending a letter and memo to the Senate urging they approve whistleblower protections covering all titles of the healthcare reform bill. Under the approved Senate agreement, whistleblower protections would only cover basic hospital care. Through the help of whistleblowers, the federal government identifies billions of dollars in health care fraud, and would recover more dollars from wrongdoers if whistleblower protections were extended to include a wide range of health care activities, including preventive services, prescriptions, innovative treatments, and access to health care.