Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of the importance of open government and freedom of information is this week, and we are amplifying the recommendations in Accountability 2021 now and in the coming weeks. Convened by Open The Government, a broad coalition of more than 40 good government, democracy reform, anti-corruption, and civil rights organizations created Accountability 2021 as a roadmap for the Biden administration to repair gaps in oversight laws and practices in the federal government.
Earlier this year, accountability experts scored a major victory when Biden signed an executive order on ethics commitments for the executive branch, including a pledge prohibiting officials from interfering with federal law enforcement matters at the Department of Justice, and a transparent, science-based response to the pandemic.
But the Biden administration can and must take swift action to adopt more of the practical yet transformational solutions mapped out in Accountability 2021 in the lead-up to Biden’s first 100 days in office. In the days ahead, a coalition of good government organizations will advocate for specific recommendations through engaging blog posts, messaging on social platforms, opinion articles and virtual events that will be featured on the Accountability 2021 site.
Look for insights and information on the following:
Pandemic Response and Preparedness (Week of March 22)
Following the one year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and lockdowns began, advocacy efforts will include the release of a special OTG report that sheds light on how the government’s secretive response to the pandemic undermines the public’s access to information and contributed to its devastating impact on millions of Americans, especially communities of color. We will also push for agencies to create standard procedures for collecting, disclosing and maintaining pandemic related data to the public and for Congress to pass the Scientific Integrity Act.
Whistleblowers (Week of March 29)
Although Congress has advanced whistleblower protections in the public and private sectors over the past decade, whistleblowers still face retaliation for speaking out against wrongdoing because the laws that protect them from demotions, harassment, and other forms of retaliation are inadequate. Whistleblower advocates will urge Biden to take steps to support and protect federal employees, appoint a Special Assistant to review the federal whistleblowing system and recommend reforms, and require agencies’ non-disclosure agreements comply with whistleblower laws.
Right to Know (during the Week of April 5)
Open government is at the foundation of an accountable government, and Americans have a right to know what our government is doing. Advocacy efforts will focus on recommendations to the Biden administration to elevate transparency in the White House and update the Freedom of Information Act.
Anti-Corruption (during the Week of April 12)
As Americans will be filing their tax returns this week, advocates will focus on measures that will ensure future candidates and cabinet officials disclose their tax returns and ethics forms. The Biden administration must prioritize the investigation and prosecution of ethics laws, and increase transparency around ethics with the relaunch of Ethics.gov.
National Security (Week of April 19)
Over-classification of government information is rampant, preventing access to information where secrecy serves no national security interest. Advocates will call on the Biden administration to review and revise its classification policies, and restrict agencies’ ability to circumvent public records laws.
First 100 Days Snapshot (Week of April 26)
The recommendations in Accountability 2021 will forge a new path toward long-lasting oversight and accountability. At the first 100-day marker, we will take a snapshot of the progress the Biden administration has made towards advancing accountability and highlight necessary next steps.
Our assessment of the Biden administration’s adoption of more of the recommendations in Accountability 2021 will continue beyond the first 100 days with an emphasis on the media’s access to information, police use of force and misconduct, and more.
To participate in any of the advocacy efforts outlined above or to recommend others to feature in blog posts, social media engagement, virtual discussions or in sign-on letters, please email us at email@example.com.