12 Days of Open Government Resolutions – Day 6: Make Agency Visitor Logs Accessible

Each post in the series of posts we plan to publish between now and December 25 focuses on a resolution the Obama Administration realistically can use to make the federal government more open and accountable in the coming year. See below for links to previous resolutions.

Open Government Resolution 6 for the Obama Administration – Direct all agencies that collect electronic visitor records to make them available to the public in an easy-to-search and downloadable format

In December 2009, the White House began voluntarily releasing visitor logs and posting then on their website in a searchable, sortable, and downloadable format. In a blog post announcing the initiative, President Obama is quoted as saying "Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process." We fully agree with this sentiment, and believe that right extends to knowing whose voices are being heard by policy makers in federal agencies as well.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is already following the White House's lead, posting the logs of visitors signing in and out of its headquarters. Several agencies maintain visitor information in electronic format, including the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Energy, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, State, Transportation, and Treasury.

The Administration should direct all agencies that maintain electronic visitor logs to make them accessible to and usable by the public. Agencies not currently collecting electronic visitor logs, they should be encouraged to do so. Agencies can address their legitimate safety and privacy concerns about posting the information by adopting a policy similar to the White House's to protect certain sensitive visitor information from disclosure.

12 Days of Open Government Resolutions for the Obama Administration:

Resolution 1: Begin gathering public input for Version 2 of the US National Action Plan

Resolution 2: Make it easier for the public to track agencies’ open government work

Resolution 3: Encourage Agencies to Join FOIAOnline

Resolution 4: Direct Agencies to Update their FOIA Regulations

Resolution 5: Direct agencies to make all Reports to Congress and Communications with Members of Congress available in a central location on the agency website