WASHINGTON, October 1, 2013 – Today’s release of the 2013 Secrecy Report, the 9th annual review and analysis of indicators of secrecy in the federal government by OpenTheGovernment.org, comes amid shocking revelations that cast doubt on the accuracy and the meaningfulness of the government’s statistics about surveillance. As is highlighted in the introduction to this report and in comments provided to OpenTheGovernment.org by former-Representative Mickey Edwards (R-OK), the government’s insistence on keeping interpretations of the law secret and a lack of oversight by Congress and the Judicial Branch helped set the stage for a surveillance program that is much broader than previously believed.
For the release of this Secrecy Report, we asked former-Representative Mickey Edwards, who is also the author of, The Parties Versus the People: How to Turn Republicans and Democrats into Americans and a noted commentator on restoring the Constitution’s balances of power, to provide insight on how to secure better oversight of national security programs.
How could Congress’ oversight of intelligence programs be improved? Or how can the system of checks and balances be restored to our intelligence programs?
First, the congress must reclaim its constitutional authority to oversee the executive branch, decide on questions of war and peace, regulate the armed forces, and determine how federal funds are to be expended. These are the proper powers of congress but more importantly they are the obligations the constitution places on congress to ensure that the people, through their representatives, control the activities of the federal government.
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Read the full report here.
The US met most of its 2011 commitments to make the government more open and accountable according to an unprecedented evaluation of the US’ efforts to implement its first National Action Plan. President Obama presented the US’s commitments at the launch of the Open Government Partnership on September 20, 2011.
While the Plan reflected many of the priorities of open government advocates, the specific commitments included in the plan do not put the US on a path to accomplish those goals quickly. According to Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, “The Administration should be commended for taking good first, if often small, steps forward on a number of issues. Achieving the greater goal of transforming government to be open and accountable to the public, though, will require the proverbial giant leap.”
To mark the anniversary of the release of the Open Government Partnership US National Action Plan, OpenTheGovernment.org and a team of organizations released a progress report on the steps the Administration’s implementation of the report.
On September 18th, OpenTheGovernment.org invited contributors to the 2012 Secrecy Report: Sunlight Overshadowed to participate in a twitter chat. Read more to see the report as told on twitter.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2012— The 2012 Secrecy Report released today by OpenTheGovernment.org — a coalition of more than 80 groups advocating for open and accountable government— reveals that positive changes from the Obama administration’s open government policies nevertheless appear diminished in the shadow of the President’s bold promise of unprecedented transparency. Ultimately, though, the public needs more information to judge the size, shape, and legitimacy of the government’s secrecy.
Push the play button to explore last year's trends in secrecy in openness! Use your arrow keys to move from one snapshot to the next. For full details, read the Report.
2011 Secrecy Report Released: Administration’s Openness Agenda Shows Some Positive Results, National Security Bureaucracy Hinders Change
This morning OpenTheGovernment.org released the 2011 Secrecy Report (formerly known as the Secrecy Report Card), 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.
For the last year, OpenTheGovernment.org, some of our partners, and others have been pushing the concept of a government-wide "Openness Floor," a list of types of information each federal component should - at a minimum - release. The items on the list include information that helps people understand what the government is doing and why.