Groups Urge White House to Speed Up Open Government Initiatives

Civil society organizations are giving the Obama administration a grade of “Incomplete” on its commitment to implement a number of open government reforms, and say time is running out to complete them.

The report card was prepared by – with input from a number of other organizations, including The Constitution Project – as a part of periodic “check-in” under the Open Government Partnership, an international multi-platform initiative intended to make governments more transparent and accountable.

The report notes that while the administration has made some progress, “the broader picture remains one of minor change and unfulfilled potential.”  The government’s own reporting shows that only two of the 26 commitments made in 2014 have been fulfilled, with less than four months remaining to get them done.

“Promising initiatives such as the consolidated Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) portal and the Office of Special Counsel Whistleblower Certification Program have fallen vastly short of their potential.  In some cases, such as the commitment to make agency reports on privacy and civil liberties compliance more accessible to the public, agencies have failed to meet their legal requirements, much less make meaningful progress.  Some areas have even seen regressive trends despite OGP commitments, such as the initiatives on foreign assistance transparency, where the Departments of Defense and the Treasury have become less transparent on foreign aid information than they were prior to the second Plan,” the report says.

In addition to TCP, organizations providing input to the report include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Federation of American Scientists, the Project on Government Oversight and the Yankelovich Center for Public Judgment.

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