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Glass Half Full or Empty? A Look at Obama’s Transparency Record

Glass Half Full or Half Empty? released a report today that looks at the steps President Obama’s administration has taken to create a more open government. Patrice McDermott, executive director of Open the Government said: “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 the government to be open and accountable to the public, though, will require the proverbial giant leap.” From the report:

While the government is still a long way from having a modern, efficient, records management system, the government met the wording of its commitment to reform records management policies and practices across the Executive Branch with the release President’s Memorandum on Managing Government Records in November 2011, and the subsequent release of the Records Management Directive by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Archivist on August 24, 2012. The issuances of the memos are commendable first steps, but recent surveys by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) demonstrate the weakness of the federal government's current records management system. According to the 2011 Records Management Self-Assessment Report, most agencies are at risk of losing or destroying records.

OTG took part in The Open Government Partnership—an international, multilateral partnership working to make governments more accountable to their constituents—and submitted recommendations to help forward the administration’s transparency goals.

The report was completed by 37 civil society organizations and academic institutions who were asked to review and rate the government’s effectiveness of implementing the recommendations, its willingness to collaborate with civil society groups, and the sustainability of their efforts. The report includes recommendations on how the administration can continue to achieve its goals and implement suggestions.

Although the government argues it met its commitment, the evaluation cites the lack of public information about the White House’s efforts as the reason the commitment [to monitor implementation of agency open government plans] could not be judged as completed, and a lack of follow up on the agencies’ part to reach out to stakeholder groups, or even produce updated reports in a timely fashion.

Image from Flickr user kalyan02.

By: Lili Shirley
intern, POGO

Lili Shirley At the time of Publication Lili Shirley was an intern at the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Open Government

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Authors: Lili Shirley

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