During his campaign, Barack Obama spoke often of the need for open and accountable government. “Too often the American people don’t know who Washington is working for, and when they find out, they don’t like what they hear,” he said in Sept. 2007. Obama has echoed what advocates of open government had long called for: “[S]hining a bright light on how Washington works.” Yesterday, President Obama took the first step towards fulfilling those campaign promises by issuing a series of executive orders and memorandums that “aimed at greater government openness and accountability.” Principally, the directives restore the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and reverse rules enacted by President Bush that gave the White House unprecedented authority to withhold presidential records. Further, the President implemented strict rules governing the employment of lobbyists in his administration. By extending his transition’s spirit of openness, Obama is building the infrastructure for an open and accountable administration. Still, as New York Times columnist Frank Rich noted last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Obama has “a lot of turning back to do” with regard to Bush’s era of secrecy and that progressives must “trust, but verify” that Obama’s stated transparency goals are met.
From The Progress Report