January 22, 2009

Federal Observers Hope for New Era of Government Openness and Accountability

Advocates for government transparency are applauding President Barack Obama's move to increase disclosure of administration secrets. On Wednesday, Obama instructed federal agencies to be more responsive to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. Sunshine advocates expect that further steps will give the public unprecedented access. "The fact that Mr. Obama took these actions on his very first day in office signals a new era in government accountability," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "He is turning the page and moving away from the secrecy of the last administration." (Associated Press.)

Similarly, government watchdogs expect that Obama's mandate of transparency will make it safer for federal employees and contractors to blow the whistle on policies and practices that run counter to the public interest. "It's very encouraging that the Obama administration is making improved government transparency such a high priority, to put out a strong policy statement on the first day of the administration," said Sean Moulton, director of federal information policy at OMB Watch, a nonprofit government-watchdog organization. Whistleblower advocates believe that the atmosphere under the Bush administration did not encourage federal workers and contractors to reveal problems. (Washington Post, thanks to Craig Mousin.)

Related posts: Whistleblowers Mostly Unprotected; Media Coalition Calls on Obama to Revive FOIA Ombuds Office; Obama and the Future of the ADR Profession.

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