This March we welcomed the Obama Administration's announcement that they planned to take some concrete steps to improve the administration of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In particular we appreciated their guidance to agencies on releasing useful information proactively. Unfortunately, however, it appears many agencies didn't get the memo/blog post; of the twenty-nine agencies who produced substantive open government plans last year, only six are actually making all the specified information available.
Almost three months after the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched FOIA.gov, the site is still far from delivering on its mission of increasing the public's knowledge about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the process the federal government to process these requests. In fact, thanks to technical glitches and data quality issues, the site currently paints a misleading picture about how well - or not so well - the government is meeting its obligation to answer public requests for information.
A new report from OpenTheGovernment.org, A Quick Accounting of Accountability Information, shows how far the federal government has to go to meet 21st century expectations of transparency.
On Tuesday, September 7, OpenTheGovernment.org released the 2010 Secrecy Report Card, a quantitative report on indicators of government secrecy. The report chronicles a continued decrease in most indicators of secrecy since the end of the Bush Administration and growing backlogs in the declassification system as old secrets move through the system. The report covers the first 9 months of President Obama's Administration.
On September 9, OpenTheGovernment.org released the 2009 Secrecy Report Card. This years report chronicles slight decreases in secrecy across a wide spectrum of indicators in the last year of the Bush-Cheney Administration, after five years of continued expansion. For this year only, the report includes two special sections: one on fiscal transparency and one providing a quick look at the Obama Administration's openness promising policies and, in some instances, discouraging practice.
Managing the public's records for accountability and history was created through the efforts of policy advocates, including current and former government employees, concerned about the preservation and management of government records.
Government Secrecy; Decisions Without Democracy, a report by OpenTheGovernment.org and People For the American Way Foundation, updates the 1987 report on Government Secrecy published by People For and documents how executive power has dramatically expanded while executive accountability has diminished. See the press release here. Available for purchase in hard-copy or download.