To RSVP, call Emily Feldman at 202-234-8494
What: Conference call for Q & A around the release of OpenTheGovernment.org’s second annual Secrecy Report Card
When: Thursday, September 1, 2005 at 12:30pm EST
Who: OpenTheGovernment.Org, a coalition of 42 organizations fighting government secrecy
OpenTheGovernment.org is a broad coalition of consumer, labor and good government groups; journalists; environmentalists; and others, united out of a concern for what U.S. News and World Report called a "shroud of secrecy" descending over our local, state and federal governments. OpenTheGovernment.org focuses on making the federal government more open, in order to make our nation safer, our government more worthy of public trust, and our democratic principles better reflected in our institutions and policies.
Secrecy experts scheduled to speak include:
Rick Blum, Director, OpenTheGovernment.org
Mr. Blum has analyzed government secrecy policy since 1997 and helped compile the Secrecy Report Card in 2004 and 2005.
David Sobel, OpenTheGovernment.org Steering Committee Member & General Counsel, Electronic Privacy Information Center
Mr. Sobel is an expert in litigation under the Freedom of Information Act and government secrecy.
Emily Feldman, Researcher, OpenTheGovernment.org
Ms. Feldman collected and prepared the data for the report.
Summary of Findings: The 2005 Secrecy Report Card showcases the alarming expansion (with few limits) of secrecy across a broad range of government and private sector activities. As part of the coalition’s effort to track secrecy in government, the 2005 report expands and updates its indicators of government secrecy.
New to the 2005 Report Card: The 2005 Secrecy Report Card includes a beginning encyclopedia of 50 government restrictions on "sensitive but unclassified" information restrictions plus all-new reporting on "patent secrecy orders" that keep new inventions out of the public eye, state-level legislation, and closed advisory committee meetings. The report also updates data on classification, whistleblowers, and requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Why Secrecy Matters: Openness in government helps saves lives and strengthens democracy. For instance, thanks to transparency law and public attention brought by media coverage, body armor that had been distributed to U.S. troops despite failing ballistics tests was recently recalled.
The 2005 Secrecy Report Card provides new evidence that secrecy is expanding in more ways and into more areas than previously believed. While public requests for information are at an all-time high, our government is asserting record levels of secrecy through the classification of documents, concealment of information on new patents, and categorization of unclassified information as too "sensitive" for disclosure.