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Tag Archive: Advisory Committee on Transparency

Three Ideas to Open the Executive Branch

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Tonight, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union Address to Congress. He is expected to urge the Legislative branch to take action on guns, immigration, climate change and a laundry list of other issues. In order to make progress on the major questions of the day, the President will have to negotiate and compromise with Congress. But, that doesn't mean he can't make progress through other means. A few weeks ago, the Advisory Committee on Transparency heard three ideas that President Obama could consider implementing right away to make the Executive branch more open and transparent. Read on for the videos.

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For Transparency’s Sake, Release DOJ’s Secret Opinions

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The White House finally agreed to allow lawmakers (not the public) to see the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel memo authorizing the use of drone strikes on civilians, the New York Times reports, but as a Sunlight analysis has shown, the administration is still withholding 37% of these crucially important legal opinions from public view (that were issued from inauguration in 2009 until March 2012). The administration is even holding on to much older opinions. 39% of OLC opinions issued between 1998 and 2012 are still being withheld from online publication, accounting for 201 of the 509 opinions issued during that time, our August 2012 analysis found. This three minute Advisory Committee on Transparency video, featuring CREW's Jeremy Miller, explains the importance of the OLC opinions. Secret law and good governance do not mix. While we recognize that there occasionally may be reasons that countenance against their full release, we recommend the following:

  • The Office of Legal Counsel should refresh its website to indicate how many memos are issued each year. It should adopt the default of releasing all memos, not just the ones it deems “significant” (as such a distinction invites abuse and mistrust), and should do so prospectively and retrospectively.
  • Where OLC cannot release an opinion in its entirety, it should release versions that are redacted as lightly as possible.
  • At a minimum, the titles of opinions should be released, and if even that raises insurmountable issues, descriptions of memos should be available in their stead.
  • Finally, the administration should consider bringing in a trusted reviewer from outside the executive branch who can credibly (and publicly) make recommendations about the release of additional opinions.

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Kick-starting the 113th Congress speakers announced

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We are excited to announce the exciting lineup of experts and advocates from across the political spectrum that will be speaking at "Kick-starting the 113th Congress," the next Advisory Committee on Transparency event.  The sixteen speakers will each have 3 minutes to present their actionable ideas to make government more transparent. The lineup includes representatives of the Cato Institute, the Center for Effective Government, the Center for Responsive Politics, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Data Transparency Coalition, GovTrack.us, Judicial Watch, the New America Foundation, OpenTheGovernment.org, Princeton University, Robinson & Yu LLP, the Sunlight Foundation, the Sunshine in Government Initiative, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The event will be held on Monday, January 28th in room 2203 of the Rayburn House Office Building and start at 2:00 pm. Please RSVP to http://snlg.ht/ACTCongress Read more for a full list of speakers.

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Transparency and the Obama Presidency: Looking Back and Looking Forward

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The Advisory Committee on Transparency will host an event on transparency in President Barack Obama's administration on Monday, December 3 at 2:00 pm in the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2237. When President Obama took office in 2009 he pledged to lead the most transparent administration in history. During his first term, he issued the Open Government Directive, set a new course for FOIA, and led the creation of the Open Government Partnership. At the same time, many observers have criticized the administration for lacking openness or failure to follow through in a number of important areas. We are pleased to host a panel discussion on the evolving norms and behaviors of the Obama administration toward transparency. A panel of experts will explain how the transparency landscape has changed over the past four years. They will also look ahead at prospects for further advances and possible impediments to future progress in the Obama administration's second term. Panelists:

  • Anne Weismann: Chief Counsel, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
  • Hudson Hollister: Executive Director, the Data Transparency Coalition
  • Josh Gerstein (Invited): White House Reporter, POLITICO
  • Moderator Daniel Schuman: Policy Counsel at the Sunlight Foundation and Director of the Advisory Committee on Transparency

We hope you can join us. Please RSVP to http://snlg.ht/ACTobama

The Advisory Committee on Transparency educates policymakers on transparency-related issues, problems, and solutions and shares ideas with members of the Congressional Transparency Caucus. It hosts events to discuss important and wide-ranging transparency policy issues with experts from a variety of backgrounds and develops educational publications and provides timely information to the public and members of Congress. Learn more at http://transparencycaucus.org.

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