September 6, 2011
This morning OpenTheGovernment.org released the 2011 Secrecy Report (formerly known as the Secrecy Report Card), a quantitative report on indicators of government secrecy. This year's report chronicles positive changes in some indicators of secrecy as a result of the Obama Administration's openness directives. The indicators tracked by the report also show a national security bureaucracy that continues to expand the size of the secret government.
According to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, "We are not as yet at the level of 'unprecedented transparency' the Obama Administration promises, but we are beginning to see signs that at least some of the Administration's openness efforts are paying off." For example, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) backlogs government-wide were reduced by 10% in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 compared to FY 2009.
Positive trends are also prevalent in areas where the Executive Office has control. President Obama is the only President for whom we have records who has not asserted Executive Privilege to deny Congressional requests for information. Additionally, the number of times President Obama has used a signing statement to challenge specific aspects of a new law is significantly lower than other modern presidents. And, in unprecedented moves, the Obama Administration has declassified and released information about the U.S. nuclear stockpile, our nuclear posture review, and the full size of the national intelligence budget.
The statistics also indicate, however, that the Administration's openness agenda has not fully been embraced by the national security bureaucracy. The report highlights how, two years after the effective date of the President's Executive Order on Classified National Security Information, only a few agencies are taking the required Fundamental Classification Guidance Review process very seriously, with others ignoring or deferring it. The amount of classified material created annually by the government stays well above that created prior to 2000, and the declassification system continues to fall farther behind.
Visit OpenTheGovernment.org for more information and the complete report.