NOVEMBER 10, 2008
Pointing out that the Bush Administration has been one of the most secretive in American history, Barack Obama has vowed to drastically increase government openness with a new level of transparency and accountability.
Obama’s administration will utilize cutting-edge technologies to give Americans access to his administration’s records and he will likely appoint a chief technology officer who will ensure that government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure policies and services for the 21st century.
Among Obama’s proposals are the creation of internet databases for lobbying reports, ethics records and campaign finance filings as well as a “contracts and influence” database to track federal contractors’ spending and lobby efforts.
There will also be a readily available online database of corporate tax breaks, the posting of non-emergency legislation on the White House web site for public view and comment and cabinet-level town hall meetings on broadband.
Obama will also nullify Bush’s executive order stifling release of presidential records and he will require government agencies to conduct business in public so that any citizen can witness it or watch it on the internet.
This would certainly be a welcome reversal from the notoriously secretive Bush Administration, which has worked hard and spent billions to conceal information from the public. In fact, a renowned organization dedicated to free expression, named the Bush Administration a top egregious First Amendment violator last year.
A report published by a coalition of watchdog groups revealed that, under Bush, the federal government has restricted public access to information at unprecedented levels by using assertions of executive powers and national security “state secrets” privilege successfully in court. In one year alone, the government spent nearly $8 billion to prevent information from going public by making 14.2 million documents either top secret or confidential.
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