OpenTheGovernment.org released its seventh annual Secrecy Report Card today, showing that secrecy across a wide array of measures has continued to decrease since President Obama took office in January 2009. For example, FOIA backlogs were reduced by 40 percent government-wide in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, and the number of “original classification decisions” – the source of newly classified information – decreased almost 10 percent.
Despite these positive findings, one troubling trend stands out: there is a growing backlog of declassified records in the Federal government. This year’s report found the declassification rate government-wide fell from 61 percent of all material reviewed in 2008 to 55 percent in 2009.
It is important to note, however, that because the Secrecy Report Card is limited to FY2009 data, it does not reflect the recent efforts of the new Administration to target this backlog. Specifically, President Obama’s December 2009 Executive Order on Classified National Security Information established the vital National Declassification Center at NARA. AALL applauded the creation of this new center, which will help improve access to government information by making public by the December 31, 2013 deadline more than 400 million pages of classified records. According to the NDC’s first report, 8 million pages of material have already been processed and made available to the public since the NDC opened its doors January 2009.
AALL is a founding partner of OpenTheGovernment.org and Director of Government Relations Mary Alice Baish serves on its Steering Committee. AALL is committed to working with OTG to promote transparency at all levels of government.
[Posted by Emily Feldman]