The Obama administration’s open government initiative: Politico’s assessment

There is a fascinating story in Politico:

President Obama’s muddy transparency record


“Three years into his presidency, critics say Obama’s administration has failed to deliver the refreshing blast of transparency that the president promised”

In general, I think the story is fair — the administration has not fully tapped the power of open government.

I think there are a few points that need to be made. The article seems to use ‘open government’ and FIOA almost interchangeably. I’m not sure that is necessarily the case. Yes, FOIA is part of open government, but open government isn’t exclusively about FOIA. FOIA is a law, and therefore much more complex. And there are many situations where agencies would like to make information public, but it isn’t that simple. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently had a FOIA request for all information involving the Japan tsunami and the nuclear power plan issues that resulted from that disaster. It took a long time — and a lot of hours.

There are some tacts by the administration that I find baffling. I think there was a total overreaction to the WikiLeaks leaks. And Politico does point to a number of the prosecutions that the administration has pushed forward.

And there are some real missed opportunities. Unfortunately the administration has yet to tap intra-agency open government.

The Obama administration has made some significant steps, but, as GAO would say, much more remains to be done.

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