Disclosure of NSA Surveillance Programs Underscores Need for Increased Transparency of National Security Activities

As more facts come to light about the massive, ongoing surveillance affecting millions of Americans, it is imperative that the government bring greater transparency and accountability to national security programs. We need a new national debate about personal privacy and security and where we as a country will draw the line.

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Whistleblower Protections Moving Forward

On Oct. 10, President Obama issued a groundbreaking directive that will lead to new protections for federal employees who report misconduct in the intelligence community, which includes agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The new policy, which has been a long-sought goal of the open government community, will guard whistleblowers against retaliation. The directive delivers on the administration's commitment under the Open Government Partnership to work to strengthen whistleblower protections, and many in the open government community applauded the new policy.

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Ethics.gov Launched

Yesterday, the White House launched Ethics.gov, the administration’s long promised effort to provide a one-stop shop for information on lobbyists, campaign contributions, travel, visitors, and other possible conflicts of interest issues for public officials.

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Government Status: Open

Late last week, the administration released a status report on their open government efforts over the past two and half years. Impressive progress has been made because of the hard work of public employees across the federal government.

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Administration Taking Recovery Accountability Government-wide

This morning, Vice President Joe Biden announced a major initiative to identify and eliminate government waste – the “Campaign to Cut Waste.” As Biden was announcing the initiative, President Obama issued a new executive order authorizing the main components of the campaign. The expansion of accountability measures for federal spending is a welcome and productive move by the administration.

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Congress “Fixes” SEC Secrecy

Following last week’s hearing in the House Financial Services Committee and action by the Senate Judiciary Committee on the broad and unnecessary Freedom of Information Act exemption for the Securities and Exchange Commission, Congress moved quickly to approve legislation that will fix the controversial provisions.

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Congress Looks to Reign in SECrecy

Yesterday, both the Senate and House addressed Section 929I of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which granted the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) a very broad exemption to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that would limit the exemption. Almost simultaneously, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing to explore the issue of the need for such a broad exemption.

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Administration Scores a ‘Shows Improvement’ on Secrecy Report Card

Today, OpenTheGovernment.org released their annual Secrecy Report card, which tracks key indicators and statistics for executive branch secrecy. The Obama administration came into office placing a high priority on transparency and collaboration, promising to be the most open and accountable administration in history. The report, which covers the first 9 months of the Obama presidency, indicates the administration made noticeable progress in several areas.

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Open Government Plans Arrive

Today, the Obama administration releases a slew of plans, memos and other materials in its Open Government Directive process. All cabinet level agencies, as well as many independent agencies, are releasing Open Government Plans that layout what each agency will do to become more transparent, participatory and collaborative. In addition to the plans, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued memos on policy clarifications on the Paperwork Reduction Act, the creation of a regulatory identification number, and long term federal spending transparency.

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President Obama's Forecast - Sunshine with More to Come

President Obama just made a statement on Sunshine Week applauding the work done so far to make the government more transparent and recommitting his administration to be the most open and transparent.  The statement highlights some of the accomplishments the administration has already racked up in this area including Data.gov, Recovery.gov and Executive Order on Classification.  The President also states that while they "are proud of these accomplishment" that the "work is not done." This reality of progress being made but more still being needed is reflected in two reports released for Sunshine Week. 

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