Obama and Open Government: Turning Vision into Reality
By Gary D. Bass, OMB Watch
Simultaneously published Jan. 5, 2011 in the Huffington Post
On his first full day in office, President Obama promised an administration premised on transparency, participation, and collaboration. If Obama is successful in transforming government in this way, what does that mean for you?
First, openness breeds accountability. The transparency built into the Recovery Act, for example, helped the public verify that the money was not wasted or fraudulently spent. When we have such accountability, we again have a government we can trust.
Second, openness can empower citizens. When you can go online and find out which companies release pollution into your community or near your kid's school, you can make informed judgments and take action if needed. This type of transparency can shift the balance of power to those who are often on the short end of the stick.
Finally, openness reinvigorates the founding principle of "We, the people." When opportunity exists to participate in government decision making in an open and transparent manner, it strengthens our democracy.
Thus, we all have a stake in government openness. So, at his administration's midpoint, how is Obama doing in his quest to make his the most open and accountable administration ever?
Sean Moulton, Director of Federal Information Policy at OMB Watch, and Brian Gumm, Communications Director at OMB Watch, contributed to this op-ed.