September 28, 2011
Open government organizations praised what they called sweeping commitments to promote government transparency and accountability in an action plan released by President Obama last week, but many said they were cautious in their optimism that the pledge alone would be enough to bring historical change to the culture of secrecy in Washington.
The “National Action Plan,” developed as part of the multi-country coalition known as the Open Government Partnership, aims to be a roadmap for the U.S. to create an “unprecedented level of openness in the government” here at home and a model of transparency to ship to nations abroad.
The plan builds on — and often borrows — from pledges already made in the administration’s year-old Open Government Initiative. In it, Obama commits to, among other initiatives, proposals to further digitize government records, improve Freedom of Information Act processing, strengthen whistleblower protections and implement various measures to increase the kind of information the government proactively makes available.
“I think the success will be mixed,” John Wonderlich, the policy director of the Sunlight Foundation, said after reviewing the action plan. “The experience of the Open Government directive has shown us that implementation is much harder than getting a political declaration. He has got a fantastic declaration, but the challenge now is moving into the implementation.”