10 Months In, Agencies Still Not Meeting Administration’s Sunshine Week Commitments

Almost a full year after the Administration announced that agencies would make staff directories more available to the public, and that agencies would proactively post reports to Congress and testimony on their site, only 9 of 29 agencies that have substantively acted on the Administration’s Open Government Directive have complied. 

The results of this analysis are slightly better than a similar evaluation we completed in June of 2011: in the first few months after the Administration’s commitment, only 6 of the 29 agencies were in compliance. Notably, in the time between our first evaluation and now the Department of Commerce and NASA have moved from making none of the information available to being in full compliance.

Green indicates an agency made progress in making information available; red indicates information that was available can now not be located.
A link to our previous compliance table for comparison is here.

The Administration directed agencies to begin posting staff directories, reports to Congress and testimony proactively as part of an announcement outlining some concrete steps to improve the administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As we’ve discussed in the past, proactive disclosure is a potential win-win because the public gets more information faster, and, as the information is already public, the government spends fewer resources fulfilling basic FOIA requests.

More substantively, though, this is exactly the kind of information the public needs in a healthy democracy: e.g., who is doing the work of the government and how to contact them; and better access to communications between agencies and the legislative branch to understand how our nation’s policies are developed and our laws are being enforced.

We urge the Administration to begin making sure agencies are following through on the Administration’s commitments, and to direct agencies to make easily available more information that helps people understand what the government is doing and why. OpenTheGovernment.org and some of our partners have been promoting a government-wide “openness floor,” a list of types of information each federal component should -at a minimum- release. This information, sometimes referred to as “accountability” or “ethics” information includes calendars for top agency officials and lobbying disclosure forms that can make it easier for the public to find out who federal officials are hearing from and how it is shaping their policy choices.

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