Obama's Legacy of Transparency is Unfinished

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2013—In a report released today, the Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) examines the Obama administration's progress on open government during the president's first term. The review finds that the administration has issued important policy reforms, but that the implementation of White House policies has been inconsistent across federal agencies.

read in full

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.

read in full

Congress Asking the Right Questions on FOIA

A recent letter from Congress to the Justice Department represents a positive development toward strengthening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The letter, sent Feb. 4 by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, asks what steps the government is taking on a number of key transparency improvements.

read in full

Open Government Gets a Second Term

Four years ago, when Barack Obama assumed the office of the President of the United States, he signaled his commitment to open and accountable government with a set of directives and executive orders designed to make his administration “the most transparent in history.” Significant progress was made in his first term, but the president's vision has not yet been translated into across-all-agencies improvements in openness, and in the area of national security, most civil liberties advocates are disappointed.

read in full

Celebrate Public Participation on Human Rights Day

Today is Human Rights Day. This year's theme, "inclusion and the right to participate in public life," is close to our hearts here at OMB Watch.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights," and goes on to define a life of dignity as one in which freedom of opinion and expression, the right to health, and the right to participate in government are guaranteed. All governments are obliged to respect and promote these rights, and national and international mechanisms exist to enforce them.

read in full

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.

read in full

Scaling Up Transparency: New Approaches Could Yield Greater Openness

Two reforms launched by federal agencies this month represent new approaches to more efficiently releasing government information. New websites to publish declassified documents and records released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) could set new precedents and improve on older practices by making the information available to everyone online.

read in full

New Website Will Make Government Information Easier to Obtain

A new federal website launched Oct. 1 could speed processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and release more information to the public. FOIAonline is a multi-agency portal that allows the public to submit and track requests, receive responses, and search others' requests through a single website. The system also provides agencies new features to assist with processing requests, which could improve timeliness and reduce backlogs. Agencies can also use the system to publish their responses to FOIA requests, which would make this information more widely accessible.

read in full

One Year Later, Delivering on the Commitments of the Open Government Partnership

Sept. 20 marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the release of the U.S. National Action Plan detailing the Obama administration's commitments to strengthen transparency in the federal government. The partnership and the administration's implementation efforts have both made significant progress toward their goal of more open and responsive governments in the U.S. and worldwide.

read in full

New Freedom of Information Guidance Advances Openness

 New guidance issued Friday by the Department of Justice (DOJ) will help to ensure that a little-known part of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will not be inappropriately used to shield agency activities from public scrutiny.

read in full