Obama Transition Team Offers You a Seat at the Table

The Obama Transition Team demonstrated its commitment to transparency this week by introducing the  Your Seat at the Table feature on Change.gov. On the Your Seat at the Table Web site, you can track Transition team meetings, view documents provided to the Transition (including the 21st Century Right to Know Project’s transparency recommendations!), and leave comments on posted items. In a memo from Transition Project Co-chair John Podesta to Obama Transition staff, Podesta wrote,

Every day, we meet with organizations who present ideas for the Transition and the Administration, both orally and in writing. We want to ensure that we give the American people a “seat at the table” and that we receive the benefit of their feedback.

Accordingly, any documents from official meetings with outside organizations will be posted on website for people to review and comment on.

This is an exciting project, and it demonstrates President-elect Obama’s commitment to  “Open Up Government to its Citizens” by using “cutting-edge technologies to create a new level of transparency, accountability, and participation for America’s citizens” as outlined in his Technology Agenda.

The information posted on the Your Seat at the Table Web site includes:

1. Documents: All policy documents and written policy recommendations from official
meetings with outside organizations.
2. Meetings: The date and organizations represented at official meetings in the Transition
headquarters or agency offices, with any documents presented as noted above.

Going one step farther, Podesta wrote,

This scope is a floor, not a ceiling, and all staff are strongly encouraged to include additional materials. Such materials could include documents (recommendations, press releases, etc.) presented in smaller meetings or materials or made public by the outside organization without a connection to an official meeting.

This is a remarkable effort to provide the public with meaningful access to the Transition process. It is also a promising example of the kind of transparency we can expect from the Obama administration in the future.

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