November 13, 2012
Government Transparency and Secrecy: An Examination of Meaning and Its Use in the Executive Branch
"From the beginnings of the American federal government, Congress has required executive branch agencies to release or otherwise make available government information and records. Some scholars and statesmen, including James Madison, thought access to information - commonly referred to in contemporary vernacular as “transparency” - was an essential cornerstone of democratic governance. Today, the federal government attempts to balance access to information with the need to protect certain information (including national security information and trade secrets) in order to achieve transparency. As a consequence, access and protection are often in tension with one another...The Obama Administration has undertaken its own transparency initiative, known as the Open Government Initiative, to make executive branch agencies more transparent, publicly accessible, and collaborative than they have historically been. Watchdog organizations have offered mixed reviews of the initiative’s ability to promote and institute government transparency."