Obama Administration slips on transparency promise

Kyle Gillis

On Monday, March 14, the Associated Press reported on the Obama Administration’s failed promise of increased transparency in government.

According to the AP, last year people requested information 544,360 times under the United States Freedom of Information Act, but the government responded to only one out of every three requests.

Additionally federal transparency details included:

  • The SEC averaged 553 days to respond to requests and the CIA took more than 3 months
  • The State Department received three times as many requests in 2010 than in 2009 and had over 20,500 overdue cases in its backlog
  • Ironically, the Obama Administration censored 194 pages of e-mails requested by the AP regarding the Administration’s Open Government Initiaitive

The Ap acknowledged various factors affecting the government’s response time, such as lost documents, withholding documents containing information deemed “improper under the law,” and people refusing to pay copying fees. The AP also included Obama’s remarks on government transparency when he took office:

Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing

While it’s not a “Read my lips” contradiction ala President George H.W. Bush, it is unfortunate the Obama Administration hasn’t kept his campaign promise of promoting greater transparency.