The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

White House Issues Open Government Directive


White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) today issued an "Open
Government Directive" instructing government agencies and departments
to take specific actions to increase "transparency, participation and
collaboration" in government, with the aim of creating "an
unprecedented and sustained level of openness and accountability in
every agency."

Significantly, the directive
establishes deadlines for action and imposes guidelines for publishing
government information and improving the quality of that information.
The directive also orders each agency to establish an "Open Government
Plan" that details how it will incorporate transparency, opportunities
for public participation and inter-agency collaboration into its core
mission objectives.

The directive does not apply to
classified security information and makes an exception for "information
whose release would threaten national security."

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:

"We welcome today's release of the
much-anticipated Open Government Directive, particularly because it
sets out specific, concrete steps that agencies must take in order to
fulfill the Obama administration's stated goal of increased government
transparency. As the directive itself makes clear, the principles of
transparency, participation and collaboration are fundamental to our

"While the Obama administration
should be commended for the issuance of this directive, we remain
concerned that executive agencies are invoking national security
concerns as a pretext to suppress records that relate to government
misconduct. We are particularly concerned about the Defense
Department's refusal to release photos relating to the abuse of
prisoners, the CIA's refusal to release information about black sites
overseas and the Justice Department's refusal to release the legal
memos that supplied the basis for the Bush administration's warrantless
wiretapping program. While we appreciate the steps that the Obama
administration has taken to increase government transparency, the
administration's stated commitment to transparency has not yet
translated into real change on information relating to national
security policy.

"Nonetheless, the Open Government
Directive is an important document and a significant step in the right
direction, and we look forward to seeing it implemented. We urge the
administration to ensure that all executive branch agencies comply with
the directive's deadlines and benchmarks."

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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