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Survey on top 5 open govt questions to ask candidates

Last month we posted about OMB Watch’s survey to choose 5 (and only 5) favorite questions on government openness and transparency for congressional and presidential candidates. Last week, OMBWatch released their report (PDF) of the survey. Given the way things have been going over the last 30 years — but especially over the last 8 years of the imperial presidency! — it’s no wonder that those surveyed feel that presidents should be more accountable, the public should have increased access to administrative information from both the legislative and executive branches (especially health, safety, and environmental information), and that those within the government should have increased legal protections when they report on government wrong-doing.

I think PublicMarkup’s first effort at drafting openness legislation — the Transparency in Government Act 2008 — jibes perfectly with this effort.

Five questions to ask the presidential candidates to gauge where the candidates fall on the openness-secrecy spectrum:

  1. Manipulation of Facts: “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?”
  2. Executive Privilege: “What do you believe are the appropriate limits of executive privilege in the disclosure of information to Congress and the public?”
  3. Whistleblowers: “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?”
  4. Presidential Records: “Do you commit to reversing Executive Order 13233 to restore public access to presidential records after twelve years?”
  5. 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?”

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