FOI Report

A White House report detailing efforts by the Obama administration to increase government transparency is causing some interesting reactions from both the right and the left.  And as is pretty typical in today’s political climate, both sides are split on just what the report means.

Media watchdog groups are generally praising the report, but also say that true change will take more time and effort. According to the 33-page report,  officials are approving more Freedom of Information Act requests; de-classifying some sensitive data; and are using technology to make data on government spending, agency statistics and the president’s scheduling more available. Although groups that promote government openness have applauded steps the Obama administration has made, recent reports from both the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics found that numerous federal agencies have been slow to improve FOIA processes.

The administration also has made procedures for classifying information clearer and more standardized, and has created the National Declassification Center to aid in this process. The White House enlisted the help of transparency organizations to devise these changes. Nevertheless, some groups are claiming the report only shows how much the media are under the control of the White House. The thought seems to be that the White House is dedicated to complete secrecy, and that any favorable information reported by the news media is simply proof of a conspiracy. Well, be that as it may, there does seem to be some greater degree of openness than in previous administrations.  Of course, there is always room for improvement, but I guess we should be grateful for what access we have to our government information.
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