Transparency

The Most Open and Transparent Administration In History?

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At this point, there aren't many folks left who're still buying the Obama administration's increasingly pathetic promises to increase government transparency. President Obama still talks a good game on the issue, but in practice, the White House's approach to make government more open looks more like the installation of thick lead shielding. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation's David Sobel tells Politico's Josh Gerstein, "despite the positive rhetoric that has come from the White House and the attorney general, that guidance has not been translated into real world results in actual cases. … Basically, the reviews are terrible."

But it's still kind of impressive to see the number and variety of ways in which parts of the Obama administration have block or frustrated transparency efforts. Gerstein delivers a highlight (lowlight?) reel of the worst offenses, including multiple prosecutions of whistleblowers, meager  compliance from various agencies, and lengthy stalling tactics at the Office of Management and Budget.

The White House's defense? Well, Obama received an award for his transparency efforts (the presentation of which was closed to the press and not noted on the president's daily schedule). And his administration is working diligently to make information more accessible. A spokesperson tells Politico that "federal agencies have gone to great efforts to make government more transparent and more accessible than ever." Gerstein also reports that "administration lawyers are aggressively fighting FOIA requests at the agency level and in court — sometimes on Obama's direct orders."