In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]
News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. 2011 Secrecy Report Released: Read About the Good, the Bad, and the Troubling Trends in Secrecy and Openness
II. Groups Share E-Records Suggestions for Open Gov’t "National Action Plan"
III. September 28 Event Marks International Right-to-Know Day
C-SPAN has posted video footage of the Advisory Committee on Transparency’s (ACT) event "Making Whistleblowing Work." On the panel is Angela Canterbury, Director of Public Policy for the Project on Government Oversight – POGO; Carolyn Lerner, Special Counsel, U.S. Office of Special Counsel; Christian Sanchez, Border Patrol Agent, Customs & Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security; and Micah Sifry, Co-founder and editor of the Personal Democracy Forum. The event is moderated by Daniel Schuman, Policy Counsel for the Sunlight Foundation. ACT is a project of the Sunlight Foundation.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) recently released results of survey on open government. According to survey responses, which were given by NFOIC and MLRC members, respondents perceive there is growing public interest in open government and the public is becoming more active in asserting their right to government information. Read more about the survey and its findings here.
OpenTheGovernment.org and several of our partners joined in sending a letter coordinated by the Constitution Project that urges President Obama to nominate the remaining three positions on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) without further delay. Congress created the original PCLOB seven years ago on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, and gave it new powers and independence in 2007. The failure to nominate and confirm a full slate of members means this crucial constitutional safeguard does not exist.
This morning OpenTheGovernment.org released the 2011 Secrecy Report, a quantitative report on indicators of government secrecy. This year’s report chronicles positive changes in some indicators of secrecy as a result of the Obama Administration’s openness directives. The indicators tracked by the report also show a national security bureaucracy that continues to expand the size of the secret government. Formerly known as the Secrecy Report Card, this year’s edition includes a "Progress Report on Openness and Secrecy in the Obama Administration" that shows success, although uneven, in carrying through on past commitments and some troubling trends.
One more significant addition to the 2011 Secrecy Report is the inclusion of FOIA data from users’ perspectives. Thanks to data from MuckRock, an online tool to help people access government data, the report analyzes the often inexplicably long delays users face in receiving information they request from the government and brings attention to other issues that continually complicate users’ attempts to get government information.
Last week OpenTheGovernment.org was joined by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), and the National Security Archive in offering suggestions for improving the management of the federal government’s electronic records. The submission is in response to a post on the White House’s open government blog, which called for specific ideas to help the government more effectively manage public resources. The ideas are intended to inform the creation of the US government’s "National Action Plan" that is being developed as a result of the Open Government Partnership, an initiative that will bring together partners from many countries and sectors to support governments’ efforts to become more transparent, accountable, and participatory. Countries that elect to participate, including the US, must deliver a concrete action plan, developed with public consultation and feedback and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward. Keep an eye on the Administration’s blog for opportunities to share your ideas.
On September 28, the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University’s Washington College of Law will host the Fifth Annual International Right-to-Know Day Celebration in Washington, D.C. from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Since 2002 members of the international transparency community around the world have celebrated "International Right-to-Know Day" to mark their progress, commitment, and unity of purpose. The event includes panels and addresses on recent developments worldwide, draft international transparency principles, and US leadership of the Open Government Partnership, in which the US and other governments will deliver concrete national action plans, developed with public consultation and feedback. OpenTheGovernment.org’s Director, Patrice McDermott, who sits on the Collaboration’s Advisory Board along with representatives of several of our coalition partners and other allies, will moderate a panel. Representatives of other coalition partners, including the Project On Government Oversight, OMB Watch, and the National Security Archive, are also on the schedule. The event is free for the general public. Register here.