President Obama Takes Strong Stand on Openness

On his first full day in office, President Obama issued an Executive Order on Presidential Records to revoke Executive Order 13233, the controversial Executive Order by former President Bush which gave current and former presidents and vice presidents the expanded authority to withhold presidential records indefinitely. AALL strongly opposed E.O. 13233 and we are extremely pleased with President Obama’s new Executive Order.

President Obama also issued  two important Memoranda yesterday that outlined his intentions for a more open government. The first memo on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) re-establishes a presumption of openness under FOIA and orders the Office of Management and Budget to “update guidance to the agencies to increase and improve information dissemination to the public.”

The second memo on Transparency and Open Government sets out several ways in which the new Administration will work toward transparency. In this memo, Obama states:

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.  Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

The memo also outlines Obama’s plans for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that will include specific actions for agencies to take in implementing the principles in this memo.

The issues addressed in President Obama’s Executive Order and Memoranda were discussed in the 21st Century Right to Know Project’s report,  Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda: Recommendations to President-elect Obama and Congress. AALL endorsed this report along with  nine AALL chapters, seventy-five individual law librarians,  and AALL’s Government Relations Committee and AALL’s Technical Services Special Interest Section.

Unfortunately, the Memoranda have not yet been posted on the White House Web site. I will post them in separate entries on the Blawg for your reference.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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