OMB Watch Releases Top Five Open Government Questions for Candidates


When it comes to valuing openness and transparency in their government, the public is far ahead of most politicians as a new survey conducted by OMB Watch makes clear. The public is "clamoring" for a change in priorities. Last week, OMB Watch released the report [PDF] on the survey where they had asked the general public for their input on the top open government questions for candidates for federal offices. "Responses show that, more than anywhere else, Americans want greater transparency in the Executive Branch, particularly the White House," OMB Watch writes.

OMB Watch, a Sunlight Foundation grantee, developed 12 questions on various government transparency issues. Then they invited other groups and individual citizens to comment. Over 2,000 people participated. Based on that input, OMB Watch is asking voter groups, media outlets, and the general public to ask the presidential candidates five questions on these topics:

  1. Manipulation of Facts: "Do you support disclosure of all communications between the White House (including the Office of Management and Budget and other executive offices) and agencies regarding administrative decision-making and information disclosure?"
  2. Executive Privilege: "What do you believe are the appropriate limits of executive privilege in the disclosure of information to Congress and the public?"
  3. Whistleblowers: "In order to strengthen accountability against corporate crimes, would you support pending legislation that expands whistleblower protection rights to private sector workers who report violations of any federal public health and safety laws?"
  4. Presidential Records: "Do you commit to reversing Executive Order 13233 to restore public access to presidential records after twelve years?"
  5. Health, Safety & Environment: "Given the importance of health and safety information, how would you ensure that the public has easy access to understandable information about the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the products they use?"

Colleague Sean Moulton, OMB Watch’s director of federal information, wrote that these questions give citizens the tools to gauge where the candidates fall on the openness-secrecy spectrum.