Will Barack Obama Open Up Our Government?


| 1/14/2009 4:12:53 PM


Tags: Barack Obama, secrecy, George W. Bush, White House, Columbia Journalism Review,

Obama Open Government CJR CoverBarack Obama is on the cover of January’s Columbia Journalism Review—but this hardly distinguishes the magazine from the others on the rack. The distinguishing feature is that Barack Obama appears something just short of sinister as he smirks and stares at you through a side-glancing eye. It’s almost as if the magazine’s art department peered inside the mind of a conservative talk show host and painted the Obama they found there.

The editorial inside calls on Obama to “turn the lights back on in the White House” and presents a laundry lists of actions he could take to decisively reject and reverse the excessive secrecy of his predecessor. 

Here’s a taste: 

* "In his first budget, restore, as Congress intended, the Office of Government Information Services to the National Archives and Records Administration, and remove it from the Justice Department, where conflicts of interest on transparency abound."

* "Get a handle on 'pseudo-secrecy'—the wholesale marking of documents with secret-ish labels outside of the official classification system—by reducing its use, establishing a system for appeals of such labels, and forbidding their use in Freedom of Information Act decisions." 

* "Revise outsourcing contracts to ensure that records generated by private companies doing government business will be treated like any agency-generated document."