Sunday, December 06, 2009

Obama admin holds meeting on openness, closed to public


The event Monday for federal employees is a fitting symbol of President Barack Obama's uneven record so far on the Freedom of Information Act, a big part of keeping his campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. As Obama's first year in office ends, the government's actions when the public and press seek information are not yet matching up with the president's words.

"The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails," Obama told government offices on his first full day as president. "The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears."

Obama scored points on his pledge by requiring the release of detailed information about $787 billion in economic stimulus spending. It's now available on a Web site, Other notable disclosures include waivers that the White House has granted from Obama's conflict-of-interest rules and reports detailing Obama's and top appointees' personal finances.

Yet on some important issues, his administration produced information only after government watchdogs and reporters spent weeks or months pressing, in some cases suing.