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President Obama’s only event at the White House that isn’t closed to the press on Wednesday is a ceremony in which he’ll accept an award for being open to the press.
Obama will emerge to “accept an award from a coalition of good government groups and transparency advocates to recognize ‘his deep commitment to an open and transparent government—of, by, and for the people’ in conjunction with Sunshine Week,” the White House said in guidance to reporters.
The White House didn’t specify what Obama will say, if anything, when he accepts the award. But he probably won’t mention that his administration acted on fewer requests for information last year even as it was asked for more, a tally documented by the AP.
And he also probably won’t talk about his aggressive effort to prosecute federal workers who leak information to shed light on wrongdoing. Or that despite his anti-lobbyist rhetoric, his aides are meeting with lobbyists just outside the White House, allowing the administration to keep the meetings off the books from public view.
The White House, responding to a request for more information, said it's an award from organizers of the Freedom of Information Day Conference and that five transparency advocates will present it: Gary Bass, Founder and Executive Director of OMB Watch; Tom Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive at the George Washington University; Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight; Lucy Dalglish, the Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Patrice McDermott, Director of Open The Government.
among other things ; and, (unbelievably!)
"worked with Sens. Barack Obama ... and a variety of progressive and conservative organizations,"
"also worked with the Obama administration on several key initiatives, including the development of the Open Government Directive.."
A ceremony today to allow good government groups to give President Obama the “Sunshine Week” award for his commitment to open and transparent government has been scratched due to “changes in the president’s schedule,” a White House official told reporters today.
There was skepticism about the reasoning among some White House reporters who were picking up mixed assessments from openness advocates about Obama’s record on transparent governing. There was also snickering among some in the press corps today who compared the award to the Nobel Prize he received in 2009, which was clearly given in anticipation of accomplishments not yet achieved.
Sunshine Week starts with a new report from the National Security Archive and the Knight Foundation that finds only 49 of 90 agencies have adopted ‘concrete steps’ to improve their responsiveness to Freedom of Information Act requests. This is incredibly disheartening, though an improvement on the numbers from last year’s study that found 13 of 90 agencies following up. The agencies’ failure to meet even the administration’s low bar is unacceptable.
Obviously these groups awaiting to pass him on this award are doing this in a sarcastic way, so I do find it funny, and a good cause.
I do understand that we cannot have a completely transparent government or presidential administration, that is unrealistic in my opinion as there are things that need be discussed behind closed doors away from foreign interests. However, there have been numerous times when this administration and even the opposing Republican members, along with democrats, had met behind closed doors, closed to the public.