Memorandum on Transparency

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President Obama’s Memorandum on Transparency (still not published at WhiteHouse.gov) is just too important not to post in its entirety.  So here it is:

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.

Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.

I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

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  • Darius Michalski

    Ellen,
    I have been fighting for transparency in the federally regulated world of credit unions in new York for almost a decade. During our community investigation we uncovered that several directors of a federally charted organization were involved in immigration fraud, financial and mortgage fraud and misappropriating funds for their private businesses. You would thing the federal authority (NCUA) would support transparency and “sunlight’ as a disinfectant (see Justice Brendeis). The answer is NO. None of those director was punished, prosecuted or removed from their powers and their positions. We took matters in our own hands and we publically exposed those alleged crimes and self dealing among those directors. Guess what. We were sued in (of course) for defamation for astonishing sum of almost $250,000,000.00. Yes, one third of the cost of building “Freedom Tower” in Manhattan for uncovering corruption. Thus, if you think fighting for transparency if ease, cheap and honorable please fell free to contact me at 917-912-9245, send me an e-mail to dmichalski@novafinancial.com or simply watch us at You Tube under tags: MICHALSKI-MONITOR-POLSKI or MICHALSKI-PSFCU or MICHALSKI KORUPCJA.
    Good Luck with your fight!

    Darius Michalski

  • Lynn Clinton Yancosky

    I throughly agree with Mr. Peirce’s comments. Unfortunately, it seems that President Obama has already failed to uphold his pledge for transparency with the signing of the stimulus bill. Even members of Congress did not have at LEAST 5 days to study the legislation before voting on it. In fact, the bill was so voluminous and put together in such haste (obviously without full input, discussion or debate from Congressional representatives and senators on each provision), that the PUBLIC did not have any chance to see or voice concerns in a public forum on the legislation, let alone the lawmakers deciding on the bill. Both houses of Congress and the President must share the blame for this irresponsible chain of events. Even in an “emergency” situation, the gravity and implications of any bill of this magnitude should have been given more thought and consideration. In fact, I would suggest that a vote on ANY legislation should be delayed by at least 2 weeks to allow citizen discourse in public forums and give them opportunities to contact their representatives about the proposed bills. Is this “transparency” so highly touted only to be practiced once this directive is hammered out?? And what is the time frame for this? Why has the above memo not yet been published on the White House website? We DO deserve accurate, complete and reliable information, openness from ALL branches of government, not just empty rhetoric. Time will tell.

  • Charles Peirce

    Ellen,

    On a close read, I believe there’s something really quite fundamental missing in the EO. Simply put, the president failed to specify transparency, citizen participation and openness in the process of creating the Open Government Directive ! On face value what we have is a closed process deciding on what it might be like to have an open government.

    Are citizens to expect that Federal agencies are going to make this process transparent, participatory and open without being directed by the president ? This is probably not going to happen.

    How about a Wiki, a prediction market and public comment ? So we can all shape the Open Government Directive.

    What’s Sunlight’s position on this ? Has/is Sunlight involved in the Open Government Directive ?

    Keep up the good work, but ask for more !

  • Tim

    Looks like someone’s been hanging out with the right people. ;-)