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Government Agencies Have a Way to Go on Open Government

Lora Bentley

Since before he took office, President Obama has been a big advocate of transparency in government, even going so far as establishing the Open Government Initiative and issuing the open government directive. The directive requires government agencies to adopt a "presumption of openness" and requires agency Web pages and other means by which citizens can gain easier access to information.

 

It's only appropriate then, that during Sunshine Week, the National Security Archive would check on how various agencies have responded to Freedom of Information Act requests in the last year. Sunshine Week, according to the organization's Web site, is a national initiative established to focus on the importance of open government and the freedom of information.

 

Among the findings from the study:

  • FOIA requests from as far back as 1992 are still in the system.
  • Only four out of 28 agencies reporting said that their FOIA releases were up and their denials were down as compared to the previous year.
  • 52 of 90 agencies either admitted having "no records" demonstrating how they implemented the open government directive, or they didn't respond to the Archive's request.

 

The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe writes:

[The] report offers no clear trends...since it found a wide variety of changes in each agency's decision to release or deny access to information. White House officials took exception to parts of the report, saying it was too early for an assessment.

Maybe "open government" isn't the priority they make it out to be.


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