Government Transparency and Openness: Questions for the Candidates
OMB Watch is asking for help picking the five best Open Government questions to ask the Presidential candidates. They've developed a survey on Zoomerang called The Open Government: What We Need To Know Survey. By taking the survey you can pick your five favorite questions on the issue of government transparency and openness from a list prepared by OMB Watch and add your own questions too.
The topics and questions that OMB Watch has prepared are:
Corporate Disclosure - Do you support increased corporate financial disclosure (e.g., release of corporate federal tax filings, a database of claimed corporate tax subsidies), and, if so, how would you achieve it?
Worst Abuse of Secrecy - What is government’s worst abuse of secrecy in the last ten years and how would you have handled it?
Whistleblowers - Under the Sarbanes Oxley law, only corporate whistleblowers revealing financial abuses are protected. In order to strengthen accountability against corporate crimes, would you support pending legislation that expands whistleblower protection rights to private sector workers who report violations of any federal public health and safety laws?
Improving Transparency - How should the federal government be more transparent? Suggestions: create a chief counselor for transparency in the White House; more interactive government websites (e.g. wikis and blogs); increased resources for transparency programs; greater openness of government meetings, including task forces and advisory committees.
Pseudo-Classifications - With little or no statutory authority, agencies have created more than one hundred pseudo-classification categories, which often preclude public access to environment, health and safety information. How would you reform these information categories to ensure sufficient public access?
Health, Safety & Environment - Given the importance of health and safety information, how would you ensure that the public has easy access to understandable information about the air they breathe, the water they drink, and the products they use?
Ashcroft Memo - Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a Freedom of Information Act memo urging greater caution in disclosure and establishing a presumption of withholding information. Access experts believe that this significantly reduced the release of information. Would you reverse the Ashcroft memo and reinstate a presumption of openness for government records?
Executive Privilege - What do you believe are the appropriate limits of executive privilege in the disclosure of information to Congress and the public?
Earmarks - Do you support the online disclosure of all earmarks and their sponsors before they become law?
Manipulation of Facts - Concerns have been raised about possible manipulation of information produced by agencies and the influence of the White House over agency decisions. Do you support disclosure of all communications between the White House (including the Office of Management and Budget and other executive offices) and agencies regarding administrative decision-making and information disclosure?
Requiring Full Disclosure - Government is often passive and limiting in disclosure, waiting for requests for documents and then only releasing information to requesters. Do you support reversing this dynamic and requiring that all releasable documents be proactively published online for everyone, thereby negating the need for many Freedom of Information Act requests?
Presidential Records - Executive Order 13233 limits access to presidential records under the Presidential Records Act by giving former presidents the power to effectively veto the release of their records. Do you commit to reversing Executive Order 13233 to restore public access to presidential records after twelve years?
And Finally: If you think any important questions were missing from the list, please suggest additional questions you would like to see included.
OMB Watch is a nonprofit government watchdog organization whose mission is to promote open government, accountability and citizen participation.
It'll only take a few minutes to take the survey and help select the best questions to ask the Presidential candidates on the issue of government transparency and openness.