May 14, 2009

White House drags feet on transparency

The day he took office, President Obama ordered his Chief Technology Officer to come up with a set of directives that would make government more open and accountable.

The result? Lackluster:

An initiative President Barack Obama launched to give the public more access to the inner workings of government is under fire for cutting the public out of the process.

With a deadline looming next week to send a set of formal recommendations to Obama, the effort to craft an “open government directive” has also suffered from a lack of attention from top White House decision makers and the delay of a key appointment, advocates and an official involved said. (Emphasis mine)

Part of the problem was that the CTO's position was unfilled until April 18th when he named Aneesh Chopra to the spot. Also few departments felt the need to cooperate with the relatively weak Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The White House claims that the criticisms will be quieted when the directives are announced. Even if the directives are good though, the administration should not have shut the public out of the debate like it did. There are thousands of good government activists across this nation who would gladly help craft directives if they knew their suggestions would be taken seriously. For a President who understands the power of crowdsourcing, he really seems to have missed the ball on this one.