Whistleblower Reveals U.S. Spy Agencies' Secret Budget

Details on the secret U.S. spy budget spilled into the public realm yesterday after The Washington Post published selective pages from the 16-agency intelligence community’s fiscal year 2012 congressional budget justification, leaked by former Booz Allen Hamilton employee Edward Snowden.

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Could Secrecy Caps Reduce Over-Classification?

Government officials from both parties have decried the excessive secrecy rampant in the executive branch for decades. For instance, in 2005 then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal where he stated “I have long believed that too much material is classified across the federal government as a general rule.”

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Florida Propane Plant Explosion Highlights Exemption in Risk Management Program

On Monday night, explosions at a propane plant in central Florida injured nine workers, including five critically, and required the evacuation of residents within a half-mile of the plant. Though the exact cause of the incident is being investigated, the plant explosion raises serious questions about the need for more comprehensive risk management planning to inform and prepare communities near facilities with flammable chemicals.

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Congress Says Special-Ops Budget Too Secret

While details on spending on specific national-security programs are sometimes kept from the public, such secrecy is not supposed to extend to Congress. Lawmakers are supposed to have detailed information on executive branch activities so they can knowledgeably exercise their constitutional power of the purse.

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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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2013 Sunshine Week in Review

For the Center for Effective Government, this year's Sunshine Week was a busy and productive time. We released two new reports and participated in several panels and events that gave us an opportunity not only to share our expertise and findings, but also to exchange ideas with other members of the open government community, government officials, and the media.

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Celebrating Sunshine Week 2013

Sunshine Week, a nationwide initiative highlighting the importance of open government and accountability, will be held this year from March 10-16. Created by journalists in 2002, Sunshine Week is designed to educate people on their right to access public information in understandable, user-friendly formats to participate more effectively in democracy and to use such information to protect and improve their communities.

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Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Begins Work

This morning, the long-awaited Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is holding its first public meeting. Congress created the board in 2007 to ensure privacy and civil liberties are protected from overzealous domestic counterterrorism activities.  However, the board has laid dormant since its creation. The Senate failed to confirm President Bush's nominees in 2008.

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Law that Legalized Warrantless Wiretapping Up for Reauthorization Today

The FISA Amendments Act, the 2008 law that legalized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, is up for reauthorization on the House floor, with a vote scheduled for later today. The law authorizes the government to get permission from a special, secret court to investigate international communications of American citizens, without specifying suspicion of wrongdoing. 

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National Archives Launches Initial CUI Registry

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) today launched the initial registry of controlled unclassified information (CUI) categories that agencies can use to safeguard sensitive but unclassified information. President Obama called for the registry in his executive order on CUI, which he signed one year ago today.

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