Steering Committee Notes, July 11, 2012


Participants: Steve Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists; Gary Bass, Bauman Foundation; Tom Blanton, National Security Archive; Lynne Bradley, American Library Association; Danielle Brian, Project On Government Oversight -POGO; Kenneth Bunting, National Freedom of Information Coalition; Kevin Goldberg, American Society of News Editors; Conrad Martin, Fund for Constitutional Government; Katherine McFate, OMB Watch; Sean Moulton, OMB Watch; Michael Ostrolenk, Liberty Coalition; Anne Weismann, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – CREW; Patrice McDermott, Amy Bennett, and Abby Paulson, staff

Growth Plan

• The packed agenda for this meeting doesn’t allow a deep discussion for the new Growth Plan. The October 17th, 2012 meeting will address this more in depth and the Steering Committee will provide input on it and vote.

• Initial reactions soon would be helpful for the coalition, particularly because the growth plan needs partner buy-in to be successful. Secrecy Report

• Because of problems with ISOO and FOIA numbers, we are exploring other options for the Secrecy Report, particularly looking at what would be useful as a supplement for the data analysis that we keep.

• The Secrecy Report card could act as a place to publicly announce the administration will (most likely) fail to fulfill their promise on backlog reductions.

• It is difficult to provide a fair and balanced evaluation of the Presidential candidates’ secrecy.

• The feasibility of addressing campaign finance secrecy, as it is a hot topic, was discussed. It was concluded that the best way for OpenTheGovernment to incorporate this issue in the report card is to address the known unknowns and direct to organizations that specialize in campaign finance transparency.

• For the new structure, teams can be created around each issue by sending out a proposal and allowing for self-identification for participation.

• A section addressing what we wish we knew but don’t will be included, including a discussion about the value of secrets. Not every declassified doc is equally valuable. We need to figure out a way to indicate this value, to help drive our advocacy agenda forward.

• The Secrecy Report Card should stick to trends versus achievements to keep out of the election politics. • Other inclusions suggested are trends in transparency (such as E-gov) spending or news coverage of openness.

• Over the long term, perhaps the coalition can create our own numbers for evaluation through a survey of partners about openness performance. This could be incorporated in next year’s.

Open Government Partnership

• Member countries of the Open Government Partnership are looking at OpenTheGovernment as a model for pressing forward the openness agenda and working with government. The formation of a coalition in the Ukraine used our model to secure their first meeting with a government official ever—with the Prime Minister.

• What would the asks be for a National Action Plan 2.0? Is the next step a new version of these plans to be worked on this fall and finalized following the election? These asks should follow along the lines of the Top Policy Priorities.

Policy Priorities

• The next steps are to determine what can get done. This includes dividing the priorities that require a push for action versus explicit disagreement, as in the case of state secrets.

• Prioritizing the priorities to effectively levy the community’s power is difficult because of the different community interests. Proceeding by strength of White House interest is a way to avoid this problem.

• Making openness an issue in the election: Angela and Ginger are tasked with creating a set of questions for elections.

Trans-partisan Coalition Building Project

• Working group of right-centered groups to consider and comment upon the Policy Priorities document and possibly join the coalition.

• Citizens United is a no-go for many.

• Government spending, FOIA, efficient performance of government are common ground with these groups.


• Our community needs to find its hook for the wider public, as the “library records” issue did for the Patriot Act. The issue remains on how to make process compelling.

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