Obama's Legacy of Transparency is Unfinished

-For Immediate Release-
March 10, 2013

Contact: Brian Gumm, bgumm@foreffectivegov.org, 202-683-4812

Obama's Legacy of Transparency is Unfinished

New Report Shows Administration Laid Strong Foundation for Open Government, but Agency Implementation is Uneven

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.

The report, titled Delivering on Open Government: The Obama Administration's Unfinished Legacy, reviews activity in three main areas relating to government transparency: creating an environment that supports transparency, improving the usability of government information, and reducing secrecy related to national security.

"The Obama administration established an impressive array of important open government reforms," said Sean Moulton, Director of Open Government Policy at the Center for Effective Government and one of the authors of the report. "However, implementation has lagged at many agencies."

When Barack Obama assumed the office of the President of the United States, he signaled his commitment to make his administration "the most transparent in history." In the past four years, the White House has issued new or revised policies and practices strengthening numerous aspects of government transparency. For example, agencies were encouraged to use more social media, launch new websites, create mobile apps, and overhaul older online tools. The administration made more detailed data about federal spending available to the public, as well.

However, at the agency level, implementation of the new policies has been uneven. Some agencies have embraced the new approach to openness, but across-the-board improvements have been rare. For instance, some agencies developed detailed blueprints for strengthening open government, while others failed to make concrete commitments. Some have embraced a shift to electronic records, while others have lagged behind. Some developed strong policies to protect scientific information from political interference, while others mustered only vague guidelines.

The Center for Effective Government calls for the administration to redouble its efforts to ensure that existing transparency policies are fully implemented and hold high-level officials at the White House and agencies accountable for measurable achievements. The Center for Effective Government also urges Congress to work with the administration to codify open government reforms.

"The Obama administration has four more years to ensure that its policies are embedded in the operating practices of federal agencies and deliver meaningful, lasting results for the American people," said Katherine McFate, President of the Center for Effective Government. "The open government community will work to ensure their commitments are fully realized."

The full text of the report is available online at http://www.foreffectivegov.org/obama-first-term-transparency-report. The Center for Effective Government will be hosting a related panel discussion in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, March 12. To attend in person or watch the discussion live via webcast, please RSVP at http://www.foreffectivegov.org/webcastsrsvp.

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The Center for Effective Government is dedicated to building an open, accountable government that invests in the common good, protects people and the environment, and advances the national priorities defined by an active, informed citizenry. Find the Center for Effective Government on Facebook and Twitter.

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