WASHINGTON, September 20, 2011 – OpenTheGovernment.org welcomes the launch of the international Open Government Partnership and applauds President Obama and his Administration for committing to take a number of steps within the next year that will make the US federal government more open and accountable.
According to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, “The Administration, in a relatively short-time frame, crafted an agenda for its open government work that is impressive in its scope and breadth. We are pleased to see the plan includes several items of high-priority to the open government community, and look forward to working with the White House and others to ensure the promise becomes a reality.”
OpenTheGovernment.org is particularly pleased that the Administration has committed to addressing the dismal state of records management in the federal government. As we have highlighted many times, the National Archives Records Administration’s (NARA) 2010 Records Management Self-Assessment found that 95% of federal agencies self-report they are at risk of losing electronic records. We urge the White House to work with NARA to make sure agencies are not improperly destroying records that could be crucial to answering public or Congressional requests for information, or writing a thorough account of a public policy’s development.
As required by the Open Government Partnership, the Administration consulted with organizations and others with a stake in increasing government transparency and participation while developing this plan. Dr. McDermott said, “The range of organizations that shared their views with the Administration is clearly reflected in the strength of the Administration’s plan. The process, however, needs to be more transparent.” We urge the Administration to use the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) as a model for its ongoing consultations on the US National Action Plan. The FACA is bedrock open government law that helps the public see and understand what advice experts give the government, and eliminates conflicts of interest.
The Open Government Partnership and the new US National Action Plan are laudable vehicles to advance the right to know both domestically and internationally. Today’s launch and announcement are only the beginning. We look forward to working with the Administration to turn the promise into reality.
OpenTheGovernment.org is a coalition transcending party lines of more than 65 consumer and good government groups, librarians, environmentalists, labor, journalists, and others – focused on pushing back governmental secrecy and promoting openness.