New Report Reviews Obama Administration Progress on Open Government
by Gavin Baker
Sep 12, 2012
The 2012 Secrecy Report, released today by OpenTheGovernment.org, shows that the Obama administration has enacted a number of constructive transparency measures. The administration has made important strides toward a more open and accountable government during the past four years. Among the successes the report highlights:
- Processing of public requests for information has increased considerably.
- More than ever before, the Office of Special Counsel has worked to protect federal employee whistleblowers who have been victims of retaliation.
- After long-running resistance, officials released the sum requested for intelligence spending for the coming year.
- The number of people allowed to classify information or otherwise keep information a secret continued to fall.
However, the report also notes areas where more work is needed, particularly around state secrets and intelligence issues:
- The goal for declassifying records (many of which are decades old) on time will not be met.
- The number of classified documents continues to grow, setting a record of 76,795,945 classification decisions in 2010, 40 percent more than in 2009.
- The state secrets privilege, in which the executive branch declares materials or topics off-limits from disclosure or review for national security reasons, is still being used as it was before a new policy designed to limit its use was implemented in 2009. In certain cases, the privilege is being used to entirely dismiss court cases stemming from activities including alleged illegal surveillance.